Let's Talk Sense...


Friday, November 7, 2003 Volume XXVIII, No. 5
Roswell, New Mexico
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In this issue...

New Mexico Politics


We want to try something a little different with this edition of Let's Talk Sense...

Over the past several days we have received a ton of unsolicited e-mails about the hiring of the new RPNM Executive Director. Most of the e-mails urge us to focus an issue on the subject. But rather than providing any commentary, we have decided simply to give you the facts and seek your opinion.

The Issue: A Democrat to Run the Republican Party. Good idea, or bad?

GOP Chair Ramsay Gorham recently hired former Democrat political consultant Tom Carroll as the Executive Director of Republican Party of New Mexico, Gorham's 4th ED in 6 months. Carroll, 46, says he has been a Republican for about three years.

Prior to coming to New Mexico, Carroll worked for Willie Brown, formerly Speaker of the California State Assembly (equal to the New Mexico House of Representatives) and currently the mayor of San Francisco.

Here are some quotes from Carroll's former boss:

"I will accept money from any one and any group...except Gun Owners of California."
---Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco

"The old white boys got taken fair and square."
---Willie Brown on defeating Republicans when he was Speaker, 1995

"Let me assure you, if I ever participate in an election where I vote dead people, it ain't going to be 1,500 (votes), it'll be 15,000."
----Mayor Willie Brown, dismissing allegations of vote fraud brought on by the discovery that as many as 1,500 ballots were cast by dead voters in a election to build or not build a new stadium

"You would think that those who are always talking about family values would want to create an environment of permanent relationships for people of the same sex. But they're not advocating family values. They're advocating their values."
----Willie Brown, Mayor of San Francisco


In New Mexico, the new RPNM Executive Director, Tom Carroll, worked for Democrat Marty Chavez and a top aide to Bill Richardson, Rick Homans, who is currently a cabinet secretary under Richardson. Carroll managed Homans' unsuccessful bid for mayor of Albuquerque in 2001.

But the race that has by far caused the greatest stir among those e-mailing users is Carroll's management of Eric Serna's unsuccessful campaign against Bill Redmond in 1997 for Congress.

Some of you may recall the barrage of blistering, anti-Redmond ads that filled the airwaves. Even those of us who do not live in the 3rd Congressional District saw the ads on Albuquerque TV (which covers 95.8% of the state's media market).

Carroll's most vicious ads attacked Redmond's pro-life views. One radio ad in particular blasted Redmond as a:

"radical right-wing preacher who wants to impose his extreme values and social agenda on all of us."

When Carroll was challenged on the ad, he refused to back down. Instead, Carroll told the Albuquerque Journal that Redmond is a "hypocrite."

Some in the pro-life community have emailed us to express outrage that Chairwoman Gorham has put Carroll in charge. They viewed the 1997 campaign as a direct assault on the Right-to-Life movement and the social-conservative wing of the Republican Party. They point out that Carroll's first job as a Republican was to back a pro-choice candidate for Governor. They believe he has an agenda that runs contrary to the RPNM platform and vow to desert the GOP in 2004 in protest. They claim that it's not Carroll's pro-choice views that are bothersome, but rather his apparent activist nature.

Remarkably, and in some ways surprising to us, many have expressed the desire for an ED that can't be so readily identifiable with EITHER side of the abortion debate. (We have to confess that this has been somewhat surprising to LTS...because "pragmatism" is not usually a top priority of strong RTL activists.)

Also upset are the Redmond loyalists who supported Gorham for State Chair. They see this as a stunning act of betrayal. Many give Redmond credit for electing Gorham and are disappointed she is now repaying him by making his top critic the new ED.

So, what does this all mean? We are passing on what we have been sent, but we refuse to do any commentary on this issue. This time we are leaving it up to you. Here is the question:

Is Tom Carroll the right hire at the right time to unite the Republican Party of New Mexico going in to the crucial 2004 election? Is he the right person to help carry New Mexico for President Bush?

That's where we are asking you to respond.

Chairwoman Gorham sees Carroll as an able political professional capable of doing a good job. She says she hired him only after others refused the job and says his Democrat background should not be used against him. She points out that he has switched parties and even managed the unsuccessful campaigns of Republicans Larry Ahrens for Governor and Rob Perry for Attorney General.

To be fair, these arguments sound reasonable (we are not saying "convincing," but reasonable.) To be fair to those who have contacted us, we would also say the points they make sound reasonable---again, not necessarily "convincing," but reasonable.

What do you think? Will Carroll's appointment be good or bad for party unity? Given his close ties to Democrats and the Richardson administration, can he be trusted? Is Gorham broadening the base with this hire, or is it nothing more than a bizarre mistake that will cripple the party?

There it is. We have just laid it out there. We don't know the answer to question, and won't presume to comment on it. Write back and let us know what you think. Your comments will not be published unless you give specific permission to do so.