Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Smear of Fernando C. de Baca

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Two-faced. That’s how Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman Fernando C de Baca’s reflection makes him appear during the bus trip to the State New Mexico Republican Party 2008 Quadrennial Convention in Las Cruces, June 14-15. Is he?

He’s a popular guy; he received more votes than any other delegate to National GOP Convention in St. Paul earlier this month.

Yet, he’s not all that popular among State Party leaders and some candidates. His top placement in the election results were not made public to spare the embarrassment of top elected officials, Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson according to sources close to the vote counting process. Domenici, Wilson and State Sen. Steve Komadena were announced at the top of the delegates list at the convention. C de Baca was listed ninth.

You can see the results as announced on a posted piece where I recorded the announcement as part of my freelance correspondent duties for “What’s the Word? With St. Cyr.”

According to a June 16 press release by the State Party, the order of results for delegates was first by those who, by virtue of Party office, were automatically elected. They were State Party Chair Allen Weh, then State National Committee woman Rosie Tripp and Committee man George Buffet. The remaining delegates were listed in alphabetical order.

BBC Radio World Service’s Jon Kelly, wrote on the election bus blog page from the "BBC Talking America US08," an article “Latin class” in which he quoted C de Baca:
…On the other side of the Fair, however, Fernando de Baca, 70, told a different story. The chairman of Bernalillo County Republicans argued that the Latino emphasis on hard work and family values, plus the Catholic church's opposition to abortion, made the community naturally conservative.

He offered another, blunter, reason why he believed John McCain would do well in New Mexico.

"The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors," he said. "African-Americans came here as slaves.

"Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president."

I wasn't sure about this, though. Virtually all of the Hispanic voters I spoke to told me they were supporting Obama….
So what’s wrong with this picture?

This is Sen. Barak Obama Democratic Party Presidential nominee before a large enthusiastic crowd in Espanola, N.M also on Thursday.

The Pueblo of Santa Clara, which was the northern end of Don Juan de Onate’s 1598, trip up the Camino Real. Espanola is only a mile from the Pueblo and became the first capitol of what is now New Mexico.

Several Northern New Mexico Counties: Guadalupe, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, and Taos have majority Hispanic populations with up to 86 percent registered Democrats.

Four other New Mexico counties: Valencia, in the center of the State, Doña Ana, in South and the boot-heel counties of Hidalgo, and Luna in the Southwestern part of the state also have majority Hispanic populations.


New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson, in his introduction to the crowd, said he guaranteed Obama that Rio Arriba would vote 102 percent.

Locally, blogger Matthew Reichbach of New Mexico FBIHOP alerted the local blogosphere about 4:30 Friday that the BBC piece was up.

Reichbach, seen here covering Obama in Espanola, is openly a partisan Democratic blogger and makes no apologies for it. He also writes for the New Mexico Independent. Reading Reichbach on both sites, one can see him present topics differently.

Before Reichbach could rewrite his piece for the Independent, their Assignment Editor Trip Jennings posted an article, “BBC: N.M. GOP leader says Hispanics ‘won’t vote for a black president’”

“Chairman Fernando C de Baca’s reported comments are reprehensible, ignorant, and completely unacceptable,” Bernalillo County Sheriff and N.M. Congressional District Republican County candidate Darren White’s campaign wrote in a press release. “Someone who holds these beliefs has no business holding a leadership position in any political party.”

“I find GOP Chairman de Baca's comments offensive, short-sighted, and horribly racist. White’s opponent, Democrat Martin Heinrich responded. “Spewing such bigotry proves once again that the GOP leadership of Bernalillo County is far too out of touch with New Mexican voters, who – regardless of political party – are a proud people who celebrate our cultural and ethnic diversity. GOP Chairman de Baca should step down and apologize to all New Mexicans for his disgusting display of intolerance. And if he fails to do so voluntarily, then I would hope that Darren White and the rest of the Bernalillo County GOP party leadership oust him immediately.”

“Mr. C. de Baca’s comments are extremely offensive and insulting,” Republican Presidential candidate John McCain '08 Southwest Regional Communications Director Ivette Baraja, wrote through a press release distancing McCain’s campaign from C. de Baca. “We believe that Mr. C. de Baca’s comments in no way reflect the beliefs of New Mexico Hispanics He has no affiliation with our campaign.”

Nationally, The Daily Kos’ Founder and Publisher Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, of the self-proclaimed “largest progressive community blog in the United States,” posted early Saturday morning, “The most out-of-touch Latino is, naturally, a Republican”

Democracy for New Mexico, a local blog that specializes in posting Democratic Party’s events calendar and reporting on them posted Friday, “GOP's Bernalillo County Chair Claims Hispanics Won't Vote for Obama Because of Race.”

This is St. Cyr talking with Barbara Wold of Democracy for New Mexico in Espanola covering Obama Thursday. She would post Saturday, “Heinrich to White: Oust Bernalillo County Republican Chair for Racist Remarks; Also, Info on C de Baca's Past.”

Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics posted, “GOP leader's racially tinged comments are wrong.” Haussamen editorialized:
Adding my voice to the chorus

Regardless of whether he had his basic facts about Hispanic history right, I’m going to add my voice to what I expect to be a growing chorus of people denouncing C. de Baca’s comments. While others have expressed in the context of the presidential race that there are some racial tensions between Hispanics and Latinos and blacks, C. de Baca’s comments were largely erroneous and out of line.

Sure, some Hispanics, apparently including (assuming he was quoted accurately) C. de Baca, hold such racist views. There are people with racist views in any culture group. But the polling and other evidence, regardless of what C. de Baca says, shows that the majority of Hispanics and Latinos support Obama. I have come across many conservative, Democratic Hispanics and Latinos who support McCain, but it’s usually because of his stances on the war, abortion or other policy issues, not because of some belief that they’re better than Obama.

…It seems C. de Baca is out of touch with reality. The opinion he expressed and which he apparently holds is outdated, racist and sad. I agree with White: Someone who holds such beliefs has no business holding a leadership position in any political party.
St. Cyr and I spoke about the news and political dynamics of this issue as he was preparing to write. He, unlike the other bloggers, was attempting to reach C. de Baca for comment. St. Cyr had gotten the impression in talking to his sources the there was going to be an effort made to remove C de Baca as County Party chair.

I proffered that the quotes from BBC seemed out of context and Kelly’s follow up paragraph, “I wasn't sure about this, though. Virtually all of the Hispanic voters I spoke to told me they were supporting Obama,” had a tentative tone.

I asked the question, what if, in spite of the racist characterization in the quotes, there was some degree of truth that there were Hispanics and other non-black’s who would not vote for an African American for president?

In my recent travels, I have had acquaintances pose the question, could an African American be elected? Others have raised concerns for his safety. I have one friend who will vehemently deny having any bigoted tendency who speaks derogatorily of Obama’s racial makeup.

I also raised the question about the polling anomaly known as the Bradley effect. This effect, sometimes also referred as the Wilder effect stems from Los Angeles’ first African American Mayor Tom Bradley’s run for California Governor going into the 1982 election with a consistent lead according to late polling. He lost to George Deukmejian. In examining why the polls were so wrong it was decided that white’s participating in the polling had lied about their willingness to support Bradley based on his race. In the 1989 Virginia Governor’s race, African American L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat had a nine-point lead against white Republican opponent Marshall Coleman. Wilder won the election by less than a one-half percent margin.

Late Saturday night, St. Cyr conducted a half-hour telephone interview for his blog. Listen for yourself.

C de Baca apologized for the quotes. He explained that he had been asked for an historic perspective and did. He said the BBC took the explanation out of context.

St. Cyr tried to reach Kelly on the BBC election bus without a response.

Knowing of St. Cyr’s efforts I went directly to BBC in London using an on line form.

International Communications Manager, BBC Global News Patricia Lodge emailed a “Press statement relating to Jon Kelly's blog containing comments from Fernando C. de Baca” which reads:
"Jon Kelly accurately reported what Fernando C. de Baca said to him about Hispanic perceptions towards African Americans. The BBC has not received any complaints about the report from Mr de Baca or the Republican Party."
Haussamen, however, received an e-mail directly from Kelly in which he wrote that he was. “‘100 percent confident’ in his quoting of C de Baca.”

In response to Lodge’s press statement I re-sent my form response and added:
In your press release you state, "The BBC has not received any complaints about the report from Mr de Baca or the Republican Party."

I wrote to the BBC around 6 AM Mountain Daylight time or about six hours difference from London.

I do not represent Mr. C de Baca or the Republican Party or am I defending either. However, I sent an inquiry. I do not have enough information, at this time, to raise my question to one of a complaint, yet your statement in your release is an obfuscation.

Clearly the quote is out of a certain context because the entire conversation is not quoted.

My question is three-fold: was it C de Baca's sentiments or was he speaking from a historic perspective, was the second quote "Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president," a combined quote, and did your reporter Jon Kelly record the interview?
Lodge sent an email in response at 6:34 PM MDT.

You might find it useful to listen to The World Today at 6pm CT on www.bbcworldservice.com. There will be a further report on this subject and our interviews with Mr de Baca.

The email posting was an hour and four minutes after the show ended. A later program aired a story by Ros Atkins on a Gay Pride event in Dallas, Texas.

Analysis

I cannot believe that the BBC Radio’s Kelly did not record the interview for possible inclusion in their radio presentation but instead, filed a printed blog story.

If one has ever had the opportunity to speak with C de Baca, for any length of time, they know that he is quick to: tell stories, to go into great detail about how events have unfolded, and to place them in their historic context, in explaining and answering questions.

He is not a man without faults. However, he is also very candid. He openly admitted, in an earlier interview for another story to his own past. He pleaded guilty to a felony fraud in California and paid a fine.

The Espanola crowd at the Obama event appeared to be predominantly anglo. This is a slice of the crowd at one of its thickest points and represents, what I think, was about five percent of the number of people present; I counted about 260 in the picture.

It’s difficult sometimes to distinguish Hispanics by sight, as so eloquently pointed out by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, the once and soon to be again New Mexico resident. She toyed with the idea of running against White and Heinrich for Congress, but chose to stick to writing: novels, social commentary, politics and her insightful Hispanics views. Valdes-Rodriguez’ point is that “Hispanic” is a culture, not a race. a very diverse culture.

Of the 61 elected delegates and alternates to the National Republican convention, 13 have obvious Hispanic surnames. That represents just over 20 percent. The number is about half of the statistical percentage of Hispanics in New Mexico’s population, which is about 40 percent.

Of the 42 delegates and alternates, including super delegates to the Democratic National convention 21 have obvious Hispanic surnames. At least three others represented other minorities.

BBC Radio World Service’s Kelly is riding the "BBC Talking America US08" election bus. He’s a writer with BBC News having written a fair amount.

My Take

This is the classic face of Northern New Mexico. I don’t want it to be stereotypical, however, it is how this particular attendee presented himself.

Did C de Baca intentionally make an overt racist statement? I don’t know. Was he speaking in an historic context? I don’t know that either; only two people know and they disagree. Maybe Kelly did record the interview and maybe he will provide it so we might know.

There was an undercurrent effort to remove C de Baca as County Party chair according to sources who wished not to go on the record. It is now confirmed by C. de Baca’s press release of Monday night. The removal was in part based on White’s assertion, “Someone who holds these beliefs has no business holding a leadership position in any political party.”

“I agree with White: Someone who holds such beliefs has no business holding a leadership position in any political party,” echoed Haussamen.

Haussamen is perceived, by some political and media analysts, as a shill for the White campaign, through his association with Whitney Cheshire, who wrote for Haussamen’s site.

She staffed White’s Congressional announcement before taking over as communications director of Rep. Wilson’s failed Senate primary campaign. Cheshire went to the John McCain '08 campaign as State Communications Director, a position she has apparently left. Cheshire seems to still be in the background of the State Republican party in a media advisory capacity.

Yet White is part of a faction that would like to oust C. de Baca and finds this quote a covenant place for them to hang their hat. He was quick and harsh in his condemnation of C de Baca. His primary opponent, State Sen. Joe Carraro said, “Darren shoots from the hip.” I see it a little differently; White shoots from the lip and he’s not a very good shot because he reverts to his street cop days rushing into thing with only one side of a story. White didn’t try to find out if there was another side. He lacks the intellectual curiosity that should have set off bells and whistles into asking, is it likely that C de Baca actually made such a statement.

St. Cyr asked C de Baca about stepping down and whether State Chairman Weh, left talking with newly elected National Convention Delegates, might remove him. C de Baca said he was prepared to step aside for the good of the party and unity of the campaign effort.

A Republican insider indicates that C de Baca poses a threat to the factional leadership at the State Party level.

“It’s the same group that went after [New Mexico State Representative] Rory [Ogle] when he had his troubles,” said the insider who wishes anonymity.

Weh, White and Wilson lead the faction against C de Baca. State Senator Sue Wilson-Beffort and former Bernalillo County GOP Chair Ken Zangara joined the group against Ogle, the source said.

Ogle was pressured to step down according to reports of the day after a 2004 domestic dispute that ended the freshman Representative’s legislative career.

In 2000, another faction ousted Ramsay Gorham from the State Chair and replaced her with Whe.

This whole series of events points out one of the problems that abound in the blogosphere, a lack of the simplest journalistic follow-up.

The BBC did its thing. However, maybe nobody noticed that Kelly made an error; he got Fernando C de Baca’s, right, name wrong. He wrote it “de Baca.” At some upstanding journalistic endeavors, spelling a name wrong, by it self, is a termination offense.

Heinrich’s campaign made the same spelling mistake. New Mexico Independent’s Trip Jennings spelled Jon Kelly’s name both Jon and John. I’m not taking this vein any further, for I am more than spelling challenged. I just expect the British Broadcast Corporation to have editors to catch such errors.

New Mexico FBIHOP, Democracy for New Mexico, Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics and any other blogs failed to take the critical next step, ask the target of the charge for comment. I didn’t make the call because I am a small player in a team effort on St. Cyr’s team. He has nurtured the relationship with C de Baca so that he got the only call back and the 25-minute interview.

The political candidates rushed to judgment trying to out do each other.

C de Baca has now issued a press release explaining himself again and challenging Weh’s authority in proposing or suggesting that he step down.

The decision of C de Baca’s future as County chair, rest with him and the 15-member executive board that is scheduled to meet at 8:30 Tuesday morning.

Update: There was a reason I did not want to pursue the name spelling; because I don't do a very good job of it myself. It seems that I made a mess of at least three names which hopefully  I have corrected. Fernando C de Baca spells it this way according to his business card, without the period. 

4 comments:

Barbara Wold said...

You seem to have violated your own rules. You never asked me for a comment or a description of what my blog covers. I don't "specialize" in covering Dem events and calendar items. They are a part of the mix.

What is your relationship with C de Baca?

Why didn't C de Baca answer any of the reporters' calls that have been widely reported? Why did he take it upon himself to talk only to Peter St. Cyr? He could have gotten his "side" out to a much wider audience if he had talked to print and TV reporters.

Whatever C de Baca meant or did not mean, he should have known any such statements would be inflammatory no matter how they were interpreted or contexted. He should have spoken about the topic with much more restraint and clarity regardless. People in the public eye for many years should know this. Why doesn't C de Baca?

Why would the BBC twist what C de Baca said? Are they part of the plot too?

I think the quotes resonate with the voting public because it's well known that the GOP gained power through the infamous "Southern Strategy" and have always cloaked a fair amount of racism behind slogans like "states' rights." The code words and the history are well known. So when people read a quote by C de Baca that he hasn't really denied he made, people are upset.

The NM GOP has its own problems with factions as you recount, but this incident wasn't originally reported in that context at all. It was a shocked reaction that someone would say such a thing in this day and age.

I also think you're showing one slice of the crowd and suggesting the crowd was mostly Anglo in Espanola is a stretch. My perception was that it was very mixed, just like NM.

Barbara Wold said...

One more thing. My name is spelled "Barbara" not "Barbra."

bg said...

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Dear "Barbara"..

The Racist History of the Democratic Party

National Black Republican Association

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bg said...

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re: bg @ 5:14:00 PM links..

The Racist History of the Democratic Party
http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/3554.html

National Black Republican Association
http://www.nbra.info/

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