Albuquerque businessman and attorney Sam Bregman, who announced his candidacy for chairman of the state Democratic Party this week, sat down with us on Friday afternoon for an exclusive video interview.
Bregman talked about the party’s platform and core values, political fundraising, his ability to attract strong candidates, and about his plans to recapture eight house seats lost in 2010.
Holding no punches, Bregman said new Gov. Susana Martinez “scares” him and he plans to hold her feet to the fire especially when she “assaults the middle class.”
“We now have a Republican who I think is going to assault the middle class time and time again,” Bregman said near the end of our interview. “We’ve already seen her dismantle environmental regulations. Shame on her for that. There are so many different levels that the state chair needs to hold this Republican governor’s feet to the fire when it comes to her rhetoric and when it comes to her actions.”
As Martinez ramps up her new administration, Bregman said his party will have to develop a coordinated strategy to help Sen. Jeff Bingman win re-election in two years, regain the executive branch in four years and win back those eight new republican house seats in 2012.
While Bregman didn’t blame election defeats in 2010 completely on current Chairman Javier Gonzales he did say he thinks the party's leadership needs to change before the next election.
“If we do the same thing, with the same state chair over the next two years, we’re going to get the same results,” Bregman said. “ We’ve got to come back a lot stronger in 2012. That’s something I plan on doing by working with folks in these contested races.”
Bregman said the Dems are prepared to stand up for the middle class and he’s prepare to carry that mission forward.
“We have to stand up for the working class when it comes to education, when it comes to jobs, when it comes to protecting social security and medicare,” Bregman said.
In fact, Bregman says he supports the party’s platform in it’s entirety.
“That’s the job of the state chair,” Bregman said. “The rank and file determine what the platform is going to be. It’s the job of the chairman to advocate for it -- to give it a voice.”
Bregman said both of the state U.S. Senators are his friends, but doesn’t think the men will get involved in the campaign for chairman in New Mexico.
“I’m really looking for the rank and file Democrats,” Bregman said. “If I have their support I know we’ll get our story out, and we’re going to have some effective, strong leadership.”
Bregman said the Democrats can make gains if they’re successful talking about what direction the state and country are going.
“The Democrats are right on every issue just about when it comes to the general public. Unfortunately we haven’t been getting our story out,” Bregman said. “In 2012 we need to come back stronger than ever. If I get the chance as state chairman I’m going to make sure that story is heard.”
A muddy campaign
Chairman Javier Gonzales
Chairman Gonzales, who replaced Brian Colon after he announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor on our blog in August 2009, told the Albuquerque Journal he wants the campaign to be positive, and urged other candidates not to "throw stones."
But, we received a copy of an email sent out by a DPNM staffer on Monday that could be perceived by some as a negative campaign tactic.
Director of Party Affair’s John Dyrcz urged supporters, in that email, to write letters critical of Bregman to political gossip columnist Joe Monahan.
I am sure you are aware of the Monahan article mentioning Sam Bregmen as a possible challenger to Javier. We're working on getting some folks to write in to Joe questioning Mr. Bregmen's qualifications.The email included a link to a story in the New Mexico Independent that included a picture of Bregman defending Meyner and Company executive Bruce Mallot in a State Investment Council whistleblower lawsuit.
One day later Monahan published several of the critical comments from Gonzales’ staff and supporters.
I have a major concern with his candidacy in that (Bregman) represented former State Treasurer Robert Vigil. While I understand everyone is entitled to fair representation, I don't want the Republicans using his representation of Robert Vigil on corruption charges and others to say that it is the same old story in the Democratic Party with the leader of the Party defending those in pay-to-play scandals. I believe that every time he would speak on behalf of the Party that the Republicans would raise that issue. It is time Democrats put those stories to rest and we move forward and work on ensuring that the new Administration does not dismantle programs that are important to working families....
And Monahan reader Scott Tillman "piled on" Bregman with this:
Didn't Bregman represent Marc Correra, the guy that made millions off state investments in the form of finder's fees, and is under investigation with all the pay to play allegations? It just seems that with Sam as chair of the Democratic Party, the Richardson scandals that plagued Denish would hang over the Party even longer. The party needs to move forward, and not backward, in this humble dems opinion.
Bregman calls those criticisms “silly”.
“I’m a lawyer doing my job,” Bregman said.”For someone to be that shortsighted is really silly.”
But Gonzales isn’t the only one going negative.
Bregman said he's heard that Gonzales has taken stipends and insists he would never take a $3 thousand dollar a month stipend. Instead, he said he’d make sure the $36 thousand was used in competitive races across the state.
State party officials told us this afternoon that Chairman Gonzales never received any stipends. And, Federal Election Commission and Secretary of state reports confirmed their statement.
Other’s have been vocal and criticized Gonzales’ leadership as an NMSU regent and for his involvement in a proposed Santa Fe movie studio.
The race will be decided on April 30 in Albuquerque. The party has not picked a venue for their two-day state central meeting, but said it’s reviewing bids from three casinos, Isleta, Sandia, and Santa Ana, and one from the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Heath Haussamen reported on NMPolitics.net that Letitia Montoya, who most recently worked on the losing campaign of former Secretary of State Mary Herrera, is also seeking the chair position.
We plan to interview both Gonzales and Montoya and post the video here in the next few weeks.
Bregman represented us when we were a plaintiff in a civil case several years ago in Bernalillo County.