LatinaLista — If anyone ever thought New Mexican politics was boring, they haven’t been keeping up. Aside from the ongoing investigation that cost Gov. Bill Richardson a return trip to DC as part of the president’s administration, there’s what happened recently with the state’s GOP party and their Latino deputy executive director.
It seems Sergio Garcia, who was hired only three months ago by the New Mexico GOP as its political director and deputy executive director, to: develop party strategy, expand the party’s fundraising base, and coordinate the party’s Hispanic outreach, has quit.
Well, it’s all in his resignation letter:
…It has become evident that my hiring was to placate national GOP leadership, local Republican activists / donors and the media. From the moment of my official hiring, an operation began to undermine my professional credibility and integrity such as attempting to tarnish my name within Washington, DC circles.
In addition, a whisper campaign throughout the state that insinuates that I will never really handle the day-to-day operations long after the current Executive Director leaves is offensive. Did you think that this quiet campaign would not come back to me just like the operation undertaken in Washington, DC? Again trust is a two-way street and last night in Santa Fe was the final straw. Â
I have come to the realization that the current environment is no longer conducive for moving forward with any strategic plan of positioning the Party for the future. I can no longer justify earning a paycheck from our donors for leading a Party that in truth will always be a two man – and at times – three man show.
I sincerely appreciate the genuine trust placed upon me by Congressman Pearce, Congresswoman Wilson, Jim Manatt and a handful of county chairpersons. The Republican Party of New Mexico supposedly hired me as a symbol of a new day for a Party that has been plagued with deep divisions that led to historic political loses on 2008. I was looking forward to re-building a stronger, broader Party but due to unforeseen circumstances, this will not be the case…
Needless to say the New Mexican GOP leadership has gone on the defensive but no matter how this is looked at, one thing remains clear — some members of the GOP didn’t get the memo that Latinos are no longer puppets whose strings can be pulled at will.
Garcia’s resignation letter was the politically correct version of reasons for his decision to (literally) pack up a U-Haul and leave but he’s not shy telling New Mexican journalists/bloggers why he left.
Garcia also cited as a frustration a lack of understanding among party leaders about how to reach Hispanics, which he said is critical to making the GOP relevant in New Mexico.
“What bothers me is that most of our party leadership at a state level does not understand what Hispanic outreach means… It does not mean pandering to Hispanics. It does not mean trying to buy their votes,” He said. “It’s about messaging to Hispanics. It’s about trying to bring Hispanics home because this is where Hispanics started, in the Republican Party.”
“They didn’t get it,” he said, adding that the resulting disconnect created a climate of suspicion about him.
Of course, Garcia’s former bosses have taken offense that they don’t understand Hispanic outreach. They’ve been firing back to prove that Garcia doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Harvey Yates, party chairman of the New Mexico GOP, faulted Garcia for not meeting his job requirement of raising money for the party, along with some other accusations:
Yates said there were other problems with Garcia, including “a lack of work ethic… He was the first guy out the door every day” and that Garcia was “rather naÃ¯ve” and “in need of training politically.”
As to Garcia’s claim that party leaders didn’t understand how to reach Hispanics, Yates said there were very few conversations about that involving Garcia because it wasn’t the initial focus of his job. Garcia was supposed to be getting to know the 3rd Congressional District and raising money there, Yates said.
He also said Garcia presented, about two weeks ago, “a rather poorly drafted and rather naÃ¯ve Hispanic outreach proposal.” Yates said that Garcia’s statement that the party needs to work to “bring Hispanics home because this is where Hispanics started” is “is almost exactly out of a speech I was making.”
What makes Yates’ allegations against Garcia hard to believe are the reasons cited for his hiring that were issued in a press release by the state GOP:
Prior to his hire at RPNM, Garcia worked in Nicaragua as the country director for the International Republican Institute. He supported 147 mayoral candidates in their bids to thwart an authoritarian regime led by Dictator Daniel Ortega. At the U.S. Department of State, Garcia served as deputy political counselor at the Bureau for Western Hemisphere Affairs and as senior policy advisor for Latin America and Multilateral Affairs at the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
“Mr. Garcia’s impressive background is complemented by his deep commitment to
working within the Hispanic community,” continued Yates. “This experience will be a
significant asset as Republicans look forward to 2010.”
Now somebody with those credentials would hardly have gotten as far as he has if he were lazy or incapable of formulating a strategy in writing, as Yates implies. That Yates first endorses Garcia in the press release announcing his hire and then goes out of his way to basically slander his work ethic and reputation speaks volumes to the fact that 1. Yates isn’t very smart since he could be setting himself up for a slander suit and 2. It’s a series of petty comebacks to a serious charge that is widely known to be afflicting not just the Republican Party of New Mexico but the GOP nationally.
Also, it is especially disappointing that this happened in New Mexico.
In a state where 45% of the population is Hispanic, the highest of any state, it is beyond unbelievable that the state’s GOP hasn’t yet learned how to message/connect with Latino voters.
Of all the states in the Union, they should be ahead of the game, and they aren’t?
If they were, Garcia wouldn’t have been asked to create a Hispanic Outreach Strategy but instead asked to strengthen the one they should have formulated years ago.
Garcia’s resignation doesn’t just highlight the GOP’s resistance to including Latinos in a full and meaningful way in party leadership positions, at all levels, but his resignation also shows that there still exist GOP members who refuse to see that Latinos are developing into an electoral force that can’t be dictated to, contained or duped into being used only as political pawns for the purpose of image damage control.