--2 State GOP Elects New Leadership
         
Nov. 24, 2014

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State GOP Elects New Leadership

December 9, 2012, 11:00 am
By Sterling Fluharty

Yesterday, State Central Committee members of the Republican Party of New Mexico met at Hotel Albuquerque and elected John Billingsley, First Vice-Chairman since 2010, as their new State Chair, as well as candidates for Vice Chairs, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Billingsley said the party needs to do some “soul searching.”  John Rockwell stressed outreach and support for candidates.  Lance Klafeta criticized elitism within the party.  Billingsley received 245 out of 356 votes for State Chair, almost 69 percent.

Billingsley began talking about “soul searching” in an op-ed three weeks ago, which also criticized the work of PACs and “outside consultants.”  He did not mention the state's chief Republican consultant, Jay McCleskey, by name, either then or today.

In the race for First Vice-Chairman, another incumbent, Rube Render, the 3rd Congressional District Vice Chair since 2010, took 90 percent of the vote.  He prevailed over Charles Mellon, who was an alternate delegate to the recent Republican National Convention.

Rick Lopez, who promoted county chair training and downplayed minority outreach, picked up 81 percent of the votes for Second Vice-Chairman.  He beat Cecilia Martinez Salazar, who advocated being inclusive, and Gary Miles, who was critical of the national convention.

Patrick Marron, a liberty advocate whose freedom of speech is often challenged at party conventions, received nine votes for 1st Congressional District Vice Chair.  Charles Christmann, Party Chair in Sandoval County, who spoke while surrounded by supporters, got 74 votes.

Alice Eppers remained 2nd Congressional District Vice Chair, with the support of Lea County Chair Ann Batson and State Representative Nora Espinoza.  Less than 30 percent of the votes went to David Clements, an Assistant District Attorney in Las Cruces.

Frank Trambley, Mora County Chair, who emphasized year-round minority voter outreach, attracted 86 percent of the votes for 3rd Congressional District Vice Chair.  Paul Morrison, who criticized the party's social agenda and said the party was “slowly committing suicide,” lost.

P. Orlando Baca, Santa Fe County Party Secretary, was elected Secretary of the State Party, while absent from the meeting.  Nicholas Cates Riali, a young social media maven, mustered 21 percent of the votes, the most of any liberty candidate.

Devon Day, who owns an Albuquerque financial services firm, and has been treasurer for the party's state and federal PACs since at least 2010, captured 77 percent of the votes for State Party Treasurer.  She defeated Albuquerque realtor Hector Pimentel.

State Party rules allow proxy voting at State Central meetings.  Only 168 members attended today's meeting in person.  Another 190 members allowed members at the meeting to cast ballots on their behalf.  The $55 registration fee probably kept some away.

Day stressed the need to hold fundraising events and implement a fundraising schedule.  This week the party told the Federal Election Commission it had $309,000 on hand, whereas its available federal balance four years ago in December was $576,000.

Through its state PAC, the party spent almost $1.6 million in 2010.  Because it had to compete with McCleskey's PACs for fundraising this year, the party reported spending only about a quarter million on state races in 2012.

McCleskey's chief PAC, Reform New Mexico Now, raised and spent almost $2.5 million during the 2012 election.  Despite this investment, the net gain in the 112-member New Mexico State Legislature, for the party and conservative PACs, was only two Republicans.

State Central Committee members seated themselves at about 20 tables.  Relatively few young people attended the meeting, and mostly sat in the back, but NM Young Republicans tweeted the proceedings.  This year 61 percent of young New Mexicans favored Obama.

With Obama getting 65 percent of New Mexico Hispanic votes, the party continued its debate of how to attract their vote.  Billingsley wants more diversity, but Lopez said the party doesn't need labels, “we are them, and they are us.”

 

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