Sunday, May 5, 2013

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Changing of the Guard for State Dems

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
May 5, 2013

Newly elected state Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman wants to beat Mayor Richard Berry in the upcoming Albuquerque city elections. He wants to beat Gov. Susana Martinez and Secretary of State Dianna Duran in next year’s general election.

Alex Bregman at bat
But late last week, Bregman was hoping the Louisiana State University Tigers would beat the Florida Gators in baseball.

Bregman, fresh off his hard-fought victory for state party chairman, took some time off to fly to Louisiana to watch his son Alex Bregman, once a high-school baseball star, now a freshman shortstop — and leading hitter — for LSU.

“You Google his name and you’re going to see more hits for him than for his father,” the elder Bregman said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Bregman was elected party chair April 27 by a 2-to-1 margin by the Democratic State Central Committee in Las Cruces. He took over from outgoing Chairman Javier Gonzales, who didn’t seek a third term.

Though he was relaxing in Louisiana, earlier in the week he appointed a “transition team” that includes director of party affairs Callan Martinez, field operations and elections director Scott Tillman, director of legislative affairs Angie Poss, general counsel Robert Lara, organized labor liaison Michelle Mares, and communications and rapid response director David Harwell.

Sam Bregman
(A word about Harwell: I called him last week, left a message and he indeed responded rapidly.)

Bregman said he will be appointing a fundraising team for the party very shortly.

He also said he had a conference call with all 33 Democratic Party county chairs early in the week to talk about his “33-county strategy” for 2014.

Bregman, a lawyer and former Albuquerque city councilor, has earned the reputation of being forceful and aggressive. This should be a contrast to the more laid-back and behind-the-scenes style of Gonzales.

But in addition to a change in style, the state Democrats might be getting a change in structure as well.

Asked when he’ll appoint an executive director for the state party, Bregman said he’s not sure he’s going to appoint one. “I’m going to focus on shoring up the party — our fundraising, our social media abilities, getting detailed analysis of all precincts — before I rush to name an executive director.”

Fact check: It looks like Bregman was right about that Google thing. I used the search engine to look for “Alex Bregman” and got 30,300 results. For “Sam Bregman,” only 9,460 results. And just to rub it in, on Twitter, Alex has more than 3,200 followers, while Sam has only 151 on his @samforchair13 account.

Speaking of Dem executive directors: Scott Forrester, who held that position for the past several years, told me weeks ago that he’d be leaving that position as soon as Gonzales’ term was up. Forrester’s new job, he said, would be heading up his own political consulting firm. Sure enough, last week I got the first press release from Bosque Strategies. It was announcement for Albuquerque City Council candidate Klarissa Pena.

I spoke with Forrester the next day and he told me he might be working in the Santa Fe city elections also.
There's also a new "Draft Javier
for Mayor" Twitter account

This was the day that Mayor David Coss announced that he won’t be seeking re-election. Only hours later, I received my second email from Forrester on his Bosque Strategies account.

This one was on behalf of his old boss, Gonzales, offering words of praise for Coss. But that was just the first paragraph. The second, slightly longer paragraph talked about Gonzales’ love for Santa Fe and how he was born and raised here.

He then spoke about the “encouragement I’ve received regarding a mayoral run” but demurred about his intentions, saying only, “Now we need to focus on our gratitude for Mayor Coss’ service.”

I think it’s pretty obvious that Gonzales might be running for the job.

NOTE: I'm on vacation this next week, so barring any major political developments in New Mexico I probably won't be posting on this blog until I get back, Tuesday, May 14.