Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Adding to the Discord

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 28, 2010

Was a local union leader looking to create a dramatic YouTube moment at the expense of Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez?

That’s what an e-mail sent this week to members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees might seem to indicate, though the man who sent it denies that’s the case.

“A campaign is looking for 3 or 4 people to attend Susana Martinez events and generally add to the discourse,” IATSE business agent Jon Hendry wrote in the e-mail sent Tuesday. “There is a stipend available, expenses will be paid, and know that you will be making a difference. Hopefully someone will take offence (sic) and we will get it on camera.”

Boy, maybe it could turn out like the footage of that incident in Kentucky, where supporters of Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul knocked a young female protester to the ground and one of them stomped on her head. That really would add to the discourse.

But Hendry told me Wednesday that he wasn’t trying to get anyone to disrupt Martinez events. “Adding to the discourse” wasn’t a euphemism for creating discord, he insisted. He was just looking for some volunteers to ask the candidate her positions on the issues.

“Nobody’s had the chance to ask (Martinez) hard questions, not just about the film industry but about labor in general,” he said. “I don’t think (Martinez’s advisers) want her to answer any questions. We sent her a list of questions and didn’t even get a polite response.”

Martinez’s campaign manager, Ryan Cangiolosi, sent me a polite response when asked about the e-mail.

“Diane Denish’s allies are just as desperate as their candidate and appear to be engaged in a coordinated smear campaign. We won’t be bullied.”

Even though he’d just sent the e-mail the day before, Hendry said he’d abandoned the idea to have volunteers confront Martinez. “I don’t think she’d answer any questions,” he said.

Speaking of unions: I talked to another local union leader Wednesday. Arcie Baca, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says he’s supporting Gary Montoya, the Republican candidate for Public Regulation Commission in PRC District 4.

“He’s a union brother,” Baca said of Montoya. “He cares about state employees and respects them.”

Baca stressed that while he is personally endorsing Montoya, AFSCME hasn’t endorsed anyone in that PRC district. But, he added, incumbent Theresa Becenti-Aguilar is the only Democrat not endorsed by the union.

“We reached out to her, but she wasn’t interested,” Baca said. “She said she’s inclined to support management.”

Becenti-Aguilar was appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson this year to replace Commissioner Carol Sloan, who was convicted of felony assault. District 4 covers part of Santa Fe County, stretching from Eldorado to the northwestern region of the state.

(The print version of this column also has an item about former Gov. Gary Johnson's vote for Susana Martinez and comments about the negative tone of the campaign.  I blogged that HERE Wednesday.)