Thursday, February 3, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup: Javier Seeks Re-election as NM Dem Chairman

It seems like only yesterday — actually it was just a week ago — that current state Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales was raising doubts about whether he'd seek another term.

Gonzales, who has been state chairman since 2009, told me last week he was trying to decide whether he'd rather stay on as party chairman or keep his position as a regent at New Mexico State University. He is slated this year to become chairman of the Board of Regents.

"It would be difficult to continue wearing both hats," he said.

Speculation about his plans came to an end Wednesday morning. Like who knows how many other political junkies in the state, I first learned about Gonzales' decision via his Twitter feed.

"Proud 2 announce for re-election as DPNM Chair," the chairman tweeted. "It's been an honor to serve; we have a bright future ahead!"

Who knew that old Prince album liner notes would one day be the standard grammar for political communications? But shouldn't he have said, "It's been an honor 2 serve?"

Gonzales faces at least one officially announced opponent for the chairmanship — Albuquerque lawyer Sam Bregman.

In an e-mailed statement, Bregman took a not-so-subtle swipe at the incumbent.

"We welcome Javier Gonzales into the race for a new Democratic State Party Chairman that will lead us into the future," Bregman said. "I look forward to debating Javier about what we are going to do to change the dismal results of the last election and how to come back strong in 2012."

In his news release, Gonzales argued that 2010 wasn't so bad for the Dems.

He boasted that in a Republican "wave" year, Democrats held on to two out of three Congressional seats and took several state offices, including attorney general, state land commissioner, auditor and treasurer.

"When the Republican wave could have spelled disaster, and did spell disaster in most states, Democrats in New Mexico held on to our majority in the (state) House," he said.

All true. But he didn't mention that Democrats lost eight House seats in the election, giving Republicans a closer margin than they've had in decades. And they lost the secretary of state's office. And the governor's race.

So it's going to be a tough battle. Bregman will be bringing up the losses of 2010, and I suspect Gonzales, or at least some of his supporters, will be talking a lot about the parade of Democrats implicated in scandals who have hired Bregman to represent them.

There's already an anonymous Stop Sam website and companion Facebook page bringing up Bregman clients like former Treasurer Robert Vigil and third-party marketer Marc Correra.

Bregman has yet to publicly comment on these sites. Maybe he's not worried. When I checked Wednesday, only 15 people had declared they "like" the Facebook page. Among them are former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya and Michael Segura, whose wife, Letitia Montoya, also has been campaigning for state Democratic Party chairman.

So which hat? Will Gonzales now resign from the NMSU board? He answered through a spokesman: "I'm committed to fighting for the Democratic value of strong, accessible education for all of New Mexico's children, whether I do it as a Regent at a great university like New Mexico State or as the Democratic Party Chairman fighting back against the harmful policies of (Gov.) Susana Martinez."

OK. Does that mean he'll quit the regents if he wins the chairmanship and stay on if he loses? His spokesman didn't give a yes or no answer. "Javier is running for chair, and he is fully committed to serving as chair if he is re-elected," he said. I didn't get an answer to my follow-up.

The party's central committee will choose its new chairman in late April.