No such thing as bad publicity during campaign season

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By Sherry Robinson


In Election Year 2014, nothing said means much because it’s all about money. Thank you, Supreme Court.

Take the most recent political raspberries, for example.

Mother Jones, a lefty magazine, ran an unflattering story about Gov. Susana Martinez with four-year-old taped statements from the governor and her campaign staff. Yawn. The ignorance and arrogance revealed aren’t surprising — it was apparent in her campaign — but who hasn’t said things in private that don’t look good in headlines?

Still, one particularly idiotic comment deserves rebuttal — the one about late House Speaker Ben Luján sounding “like a retard.” After several years of listening to Luján during legislative sessions, I can say he expressed himself perfectly well, could be quite articulate and was always gentlemanly.

Now we have the governor’s campaign slinging mud at candidate Alan Webber for support from former radical Mark Rudd, whom the governor’s campaign called a “domestic terrorist.” 

As it happens, I just met Rudd for the first time a few weeks ago. I know this will be a big disappointment for some, but he’s just a regular guy and a retired teacher. He also loves the Zuni Mountains in western New Mexico. (And he likes my first book, which is the same as telling a mom that her baby is beautiful.)

The fact is that Rudd long ago and very publicly renounced the Weather Underground and apologized for his actions. 

Webber then turned around and flung his own mud pie by bringing up some embarrassing lapses by three of the governor’s associates, who haven’t exactly been role models.

In the Age of the Internet, nobody has any secrets.

What’s more important is what happens next, and that’s the spinning of straw into gold: The liberal media is picking on me! Send money! Susana’s “fraternity of misogynistic thugs” are picking on me! Send money!! 

With court decisions that opened the floodgates on anonymous campaign donations, we have entered a time when there is no such thing as bad publicity. No matter what’s out there, it’s usable campaign ammunition and it’s bankable. 

Martinez’s bashing of Webber actually gives him momentum at a time when all five Dem candidates are trying to distinguish themselves and convince voters that they are the candidates who can beat Martinez. The others are probably wishing Martinez or her minions would trash them too.

Which brings us to Webber himself.

Webber is the brains behind Fast Company magazine, which is a very big deal in the tech world. According to his website, in 1993 Webber launched the magazine, which won numerous awards, including launch of the year and magazine of the year. In 2000, investors sold the magazine for $365 million.

Before that Webber was the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review.

It speaks well for New Mexico that someone like Webber wants to be governor of this state. Because he’s so comfortable with business and the language of business, he would also do wonders for our economic development recruiting.

Webber has described himself as pro-jobs, but he also considers himself a progressive. Even though business people are often Republicans, techies — denizens of the New Economy — usually tilt left. I’d like to hear Webber elaborate on his jobs agenda.

Democrats have an interesting choice of candidates in this election, but they all want to be embraced as progressives. When I suggested to one that he might be a moderate, he blanched. That was apparently outside his comfort zone. 

It means the five inhabit a pretty narrow range of views on the left, and the governor inhabits an equally narrow range on the right. The winner, as the late Bruce King advised Bill Clinton years ago, will pull toward the center.