The Secret Tamaya Meeting: A National Story in the Making?

August 9th, 2013 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

As mentioned in a previous post, Susana Martinez meeting secretly with two of the GOP’s top national leaders was a story that warranted Page One, but was buried in the Albuquerque Journal.

The Tamaya Resort secret meeting story was worthy of A1 not only because of the two prominent GOP names, including a possible GOP presidential contender, but because – even more intriguing – it said a plane spotted at the Albuquerque airport was likely owned by the Koch brothers – the billionaires who aggressively fund conservative political causes.

A story the next day — confirming not only that Charles and David Koch owned the plane but the revelation the Koch brothers actually sponsored the secret meeting — again was relegated to the Journal’s C-section, just before Sports. This time, the story didn’t even get a headline, as it was placed at the tail end of a “Politics Notebook” by James Monteleone, a column that had led with tidbits about another political story involving New Mexico U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.

This is not a criticism of Monteleone, whom I applaud for getting the Koch brothers even mentioned in the Journal.

But these stories about the secret meeting and the Koch connection deserved better play.

The secret meeting has all the appearances of a national story in the making.

Perhaps, as I write this, Journal reporters are working on fully investigating the meeting – who was there, what was said; at the least, getting a comment from the governor.

And they should be.

Republicans – and Democrats – are deep in planning for the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Rodham Clinton is getting frequent mention as the leading Democratic contender.

On the GOP side, names like Paul Ryan (who was at Tamaya), Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio pop up.

But the secret meeting indicates – to this observer anyway – that another Hispanic name, Susana Martinez, is on the presidential race radar, too.

Who better to beat Rodham Clinton, the woman who came closest in U.S. history to the presidency in 2008, than another woman? And not just another woman, but the nation’s first Hispanic-surnamed female governor.

One need look no further than the 2010 New Mexico gubernatorial race to see how this could play out.

After decades of service to New Mexico, Democrat Diane Denish spent eight years as lieutenant governor, preparing for the state’s top administrative position.  Then, Martinez jumped into the race and won.

Read “The Push for the Nation’s First Hispanic Female Governor” to see how the Journal helped Martinez get there.

During her gubernatorial campaign, Martinez had out-of-state backing, including large donations from Texas, her birth state. Once in office, out-of-state donations to her Susana PAC, particularly from Texas,  increased, according to the Journal. And even Journal reportage has been critical of her reliance at times on outside experts, particularly when it comes to education policy (although in editorials, the Journal has backed both Martinez’s education policies and her controversial education secretary-designate.)

As Barack Obama, as a U.S. Senator, made a splash on the national scene with his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, Martinez made a splash with her speech and in speaking Spanish (“en America todo es possible”) at the 2012 GOP national meet.

She’s continued to make appearances nationally while displaying skill at public relations in New Mexico, as Thom Cole pointed out in a Journal UpFront column this week. Sure, she’s had bumps in the road, like her unpopular stances on New Mexico film incentives and the Spaceport, on which her positions appear to have softened.

She’s had some bad press, too. But it’s likely the number of people who saw David Correia’s “The Toxic Tales of Susana Martinez” n the Weekly Alibi – a story about Martinez allowing mining giant Freeport-McMoRan to write copper mining rules for the state – is a number that pales in comparison to those of readers who saw two favorable pieces that recently ran in the Journal and People magazine.

As Cole pointed out:

As it was with (her predecessor, former Gov. Bill) Richardson, news media access to Martinez for private interviews is tightly controlled.

Martinez has given recent interviews to the Journal to talk about the death of four pets and to People magazine to discuss caring for her developmentally disabled sister.

(Note: Martinez also appeared in Time as one of the nation’s 100 most influential people. Her story was written by Karl Rove , who noted that Mitt Romney had considered her as a running mate.)

Martinez looked good, too, in this morning’s Journal (Aug. 9), when an UpFront piece about bullying was accompanied by a photo of Martinez with Carlos Vigil, the anti-bullying advocate who took his life last month. Also on the front page was a story about Martinez working with the governor of Chihuahua to create what would become the first master-planned, bi-national city along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is big news, and will look good on Martinez’s national rèsumé.

What really is big news, however, is the presence of the Koch brothers in this story.

The national web site Politico posted a piece about the New Mexico meeting, including this background:

The meetings generally attract top conservative talent, for whom they can be quite useful, providing an opportunity to build rapport with some of the movements’ deepest-pocketed backers. They are closely watched for signs of how and where the Kochs’ vast network will be involved in conservative political and policy fights.

(Eric) Cantor and Ryan are both in the middle of nearly every piece of legislation that crosses the House floor. Cantor has been focused on an agenda meant to appeal to working families — an effort, that at times, has hit snags. In recent weeks, Cantor crafted a deal to extend funding for food stamps — but slashes the program by $40 billion. Ryan has been working with Democrats and Republicans to craft an immigration bill, and will certainly be key in the fall debate to raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding.

Ryan has developed deep ties to Koch World, having appeared at multiple events for (Americans for Prosperty), and delivering a major speech at the Kochs’ summer 2008 donor summit on his “fiscal ‘Roadmap for America’s future,’” according to a program for that summit reviewed by POLITICO.

The conservative web site New Mexico Watchdog, in reporting on the secret meeting, noted:

The first Hispanic female governor in U.S. history, Martinez has received a higher national profile in recent months as the Republican National Committee tries to improve its polling numbers with Latinos. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the state GOP earlier this year, “What we need to do is build a national party like the way you’re doing in New Mexico … You’re doing things right.”

In June, Martinez held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., that reportedly raised $220,000 for her 2014 re-election campaign.

There are rumors of the governor being considered as a candidate for national office — perhaps as a potential vice-presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential election — but Martinez has long maintained she’s not interested.

– See more at: http://newmexico.watchdog.org/19201/susana-attends-koch-brothers-event-meets-with-paul-ryan-and-eric-cantor/#sthash.sStHLnzg.dpuf

The first Hispanic female governor in U.S. history, Martinez has received a higher national profile in recent months as the Republican National Committee tries to improve its polling numbers with Latinos. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the state GOP earlier this year, “What we need to do is build a national party like the way you’re doing in New Mexico … You’re doing things right.”

In June, Martinez held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., that reportedly raised $220,000 for her 2014 re-election campaign.

There are rumors of the governor being considered as a candidate for national office — perhaps as a potential vice-presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential election — but Martinez has long maintained she’s not interested.

– See more at: http://newmexico.watchdog.org/19201/susana-attends-koch-brothers-event-meets-with-paul-ryan-and-eric-cantor/#sthash.sStHLnzg.dpuf

The first Hispanic female governor in U.S. history, Martinez has received a higher national profile in recent months as the Republican National Committee tries to improve its polling numbers with Latinos. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the state GOP earlier this year, “What we need to do is build a national party like the way you’re doing in New Mexico … You’re doing things right.”

In June, Martinez held a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., that reportedly raised $220,000 for her 2014 re-election campaign.

There are rumors of the governor being considered as a candidate for national office — perhaps as a potential vice-presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential election — but Martinez has long maintained she’s not interested.

With the Koch’s blessing, the national GOP came to Martinez’s turf, New Mexico. The national GOP came to Martinez.

It will be interesting to see whether their mission was mining for more than wealthy donors.

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