Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Republican Party Chair Candidates

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

New Mexico State Republicans will elect a new Party Chair, replacing Col. Allen Weh, at a Central Committee Meeting on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, at the Hotel Albuquerque.

Weh, right, with ardent supporter Sen. Pete Domenici, is stepping down after the widespread defeat of Republicans at the top of the 2008 ticket. Democrats won the state, picking up the: White House, U.S. Senate seat opened by Domenici’s retirement, all three Congressional seats and several seats in both houses of the State Legislature. No Republican defeated a Democratic incumbent or took a challenged open seat. The GOP lost three seats each in both the State House and Senate.

Four men have announced their intentions to run, though under party rules, nominations are taken from the floor during the meeting.

The four announced candidates are: Allen McCulloch, Michael Meyer, John Padoven, and Harvey Yates Jr.

Doctor Allen McCulloch is a Farmington Urologist. He was the 2006 Republicans U.S. Senate candidate running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Bingaman defeated McCulloch by a 40 percent margin. McCulloch is a member of the State Central Committee.

Michael Meyer is a managing director of an Albuquerque investment advisory firm with prior experience in public finance. He was an adjunct instructor of regional and natural resources economics at the University of Texas, Permian Basin. He is new to politics, never having served in the Party or held an elected office.

John Padoven is a former Bernalillo County State Representative. First elected in 1979, he served two terms in the Legislature, he moved to California. He recently returned to New Mexico and is Vice President of Bentley Systems, a Santa Fe based computer software and business consulting firm.

Harvey Yates Jr. is an Albuquerque based oilman, real estate developer and a lawyer in an inactive status with the New Mexico Bar. He is President of Jalapeno Corporation and associated with several other family owned businesses. He served as a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention, but otherwise has not served on Party committees or held other elected office.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

These are Michael Meyer, John Padoven, and Harvey Yates Jr.

McCulloch has been elusive and in over two years, I have yet to photograph him.

Meyer, Padoven, and Yates have spoken before a group hosted by Republican Albuquerque State Representative Janice Arnold-Jones. Arnold-Jones holds Saturday morning office hours and hosts a non-partisan round table group discussion.

The three are hopeful of revitalizing the Party leadership through a renewed openness.

Though invited, McCulloch has not attended or responded.

Yates is the treasurer of a Political Action Committee; New Mexico Turn Around that supported six GOP Legislative candidates in Democratically dominated areas and one District Attorney candidate in an effort to establish a Republican presence. All seven lost. Yates considers the effort worthwhile.

Democrat and Progressive bloggers attacked the PAC for assisting incumbent Democrat State Rep. Daniel Silva by contributing $5,000 towards legal fees in a suit brought by Bernalillo County Senators James Taylor, Shannon Robinson and Rep. Silva. The trio, defeated by self proclaimed Progressives, in the June 3 primary, claim they were victims of improper and illegal attacks against their incumbencies by third party 501c3 non profit organizations misusing their tax exempt status. The case was dismissed in District Court and is under appeal.

Meanwhile, the 501c3 non profit organizations filed a federal suit against Attorney General Gary King, left, and Secretary of State Mary Herrera, right, for not spelling out the legal reasoning as to why the non profit's activities should not be protected free speech. The Attorney General and Secretary of State are pursuing a separate action to assess fines for 501c3's informational fliers they claim are illegal campaign material. 

The three incumbent Democrats were defeated by 30 points or more in the primary.

Political newcomer Eleanor Chavez, left, took Silva's Albuquerque's Westside House seat;

Taylor, left, lost his South Valley Senate district that straddles Bernalillo and Valencia Counties, to former Albuquerque City Councilor Eric Griego, right;

and Robinson, left was beaten by Tim Keller for the Southeast Heights Senate seat.

None of the three had general election opponents.

Former Democratic State Land Commissioner, Director of the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management and Albuquerque Mayor, Jim Baca, who is currently New Mexico Natural Resource Trustee, often rails against Yates' extended family's oil businesses.

“The Yates family controls a quarter of all federal land leased for oil and gas drilling,” Heath Haussamen on New Mexico Politics blogspot reports, “-- more than any other family or group in the nation.”

“If I’m big oil,” Yates has said about the charge, “then there is no such thing as little oil.”

As a large contributor to Republicans causes, some considered Yates the front-runner.

Yates claims support of former Republican U.S. Sen. Domenici and Reps. Manuel Lujan, Steve Pearce, and Heather Wilson. Republican Party of Bernalillo County Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi, left, is Yates’ Jalapeno Corporation’s Business Manager and a board member of New Mexico Turn Around.

Yates is not a public man and is more than a bit camera shy. When I indicated I wanted to photograph him, his first reaction was to quickly move away and resist. He said he wanted to control the caption. He did relax and we now know what he looks like.
The election of a chairman is not the only or even the most important agenda item for the State GOP.

Weh has run the Party using what he calls “the rule of the gavel,” making all decisions at and about meetings without a procedure to challenge any ruling.

Weh upset some Party insiders with his heavy-handed running of the 2008 Quadrennial Convention in Las Cruces.

Weh, above center claimed extraordinary powers, beyond the rules, in trying to force then Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman Fernando C de Baca from his elected post, at a Sep. 23, 2008, press conference. With Weh were State Party Secretary Nina Martinez, 1st Vice Chairman Jon Barela, Vickie Perea, and GOP NM 2nd Vice Chair Chris Saucedo.

A British Broadcasting Corporation News election bus website Reporter Jon Kelly, posted comments made by C de Baca, right, that were deemed inappropriate by many who called for his resignation or removal. When the Bernalillo County Republican Party’s Central Committee stood by C de Baca, it forced Weh’s hand. C de Baca later resigned on his own.

Reformers within the State Central Committee, led by Arnold-Jones, have proposed several amendments to be incorporated in the State’s rules to provide for due process. The proposed changes start with the adoption of parliamentary rules of order, to be consistent with the National Party’s rules.

Weh, left, and his First Vice Chair, Jon Barela, right, is also stepping down under a cloud of an ethical violation. Barela was appointed by the Albuquerque School Board to fill out the unexpired term of Gordon Rowe, who resigned late last year. An ethic complaint was lodged against Barela for failing to step down from his Party office when he competed for the appointment, where other Republicans also sought the seat, in violation of State Party rules. Though months old, the Party has failed to schedule a hearing and indicates that there is no procedural rules to allow for a resolution of a complaint.

I photographed Arnold-Jones for her 2006 campaign.

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