State rep sorry for blasting ‘Anglo newcomer’ Dems in email

Miguel Garcia

Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, on Wednesday apologized to two legislative candidates he had disparaged earlier this week in an email to some legislative colleagues.

Garcia’s email to other state Democratic leaders about legislative primary races in Valencia County said, “A minority of unsuspecting Democratic leaders are supporting the Democratic Anglo newcomer opponents in [Andrew Barreras’] and [Frank Otero’s] primary races. Anglo Democrats with egos as big as Texas, mouths as big as the Grand Canyon, and much ‘green’ [moolah] from the east and the west coast.”

Garcia’s email, first reported by KRQE TV on Tuesday, also said, “Treachery in our ranks undermine Barreras & Otero.”

One of those races — in House District 7, currently represented by freshman Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Los Lunas — is a swing district that Democrats hope to pick up in the general election. Both Democrats and Republicans have said it’s one of the 10 races that could determine the control of the New Mexico Legislature.

But on Wednesday, after some Democratic leaders — including candidate Otero — called on Garcia to apologize, he did.

In a letter to Otero’s opponent, Jim Danner, Garcia said, “I used inappropriate language to define your character. Regardless of what I think your reasons are for running for State Rep — I want to ask for your forgiveness regarding the negative manner in which I questioned your character or campaign pursuits.

“It is not in me to speak negatively of fellow Democrats, or anyone for that fact, that I am not personally acquainted with or familiar with,” Garcia said in his apology. “In my legislative career I pride myself on always taking the ‘moral high ground’ on issues of bigotry, discrimination, inequality, prejudice, intolerance, hatred — I faltered in reaching that in my email.”

Contacted Wednesday, Danner said he received Garcia’s email and talked to him on the phone. Tanner said he accepted the apology. “I believe he was sincere.” A retired school principal and basketball coach, Danner said, “I’ve been called names before.”

But, Danner said, “I just wish he would have called me before he wrote those things. … I’ve been in New Mexico since 1949. And I don’t have any money.” But he said the campaign should be focused on the issues — education and the economy — and not “these peripheral matters.”

Otero on Wednesday said he was glad Garcia apologized. “I cringed when I read [Garcia’s original] email,” Otero said, “My grandma was half Anglo. And my grandchildren are half Anglo, too.” Discussing his opponent’s ethnicity “was not the route I wanted to go. I don’t condone that.”

Otero and Danner are running for the state House seat now held by Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas.

Garcia also apologized to Teresa Smith de Cherif, who is Barreras’ primary opponent. She said Wednesday that in addition to the email apology, she also had a phone conversation with Garcia. “Some people say things in the heat of passion without knowing the facts,” Smith de Cherif said. “His apology was equally passionate.” She said she admired Garcia for being willing to admit his mistake.

House Speaker Kenny Martinez, D-Grants, also called her Wednesday to tell her Garcia’s remarks were inappropriate, she said.

Smith de Cherif explained that her grandfather was a copper miner in the Southwest, and her family has six generations of Spanish speakers.

Barreras couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Garcia’s original email, in support of Otero and Barreras, said both candidates “were born and raised in New Mexico and are seasoned political, community, and Catholic church leaders. They are our only ray of HOPE in winning back a voice for the people in Valencia County.”

Before Garcia made his apology public Wednesday, Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, who was sent a copy of the original email, said, “The comments and use of candidates’ race as a way to motivate campaign donations are wrong and deeply troubling. I think Miguel should offer an apology and move on from talk about electing people based on the color of their skin.”

In his original email, Garcia also made some colorful comments about the Republican lawmakers in the races. Fajardo, he said, is a “loyal lap dog of Gov [Susana] Martinez’s extremists [sic] agenda.” Baldonado, he wrote, “always falls in line every time Gov. Martinez snaps her blood stained fingers.”

And he called maverick Democratic Rep. Sandra Jeff, who frequently sides with Republicans on certain issues, “a renegade Democrat who licks the governor’s arm pits.” Jeff, who lists her residence as Crownpoint, is running for re-election as a write-in candidate after failing to get enough valid signatures on a nominating petition.

Staff writer Milan Simonich contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.

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(9) comments

Dr. Michael Johnson

It appears since this email was sent to party leaders and not intended for the "press" , as he put it, that nothing would have been said by those party leaders, who probably get ones like this frequently, unless it gets leaked. So Kenny Martinez and Egolf feigning outrage about it is totally unbelievable and not credible. They probably encourage this sort of thing I suspect, that is where this ethnic superiority culture comes from in NM.

Comment deleted.
Pierce Knolls

Telling other state Democratic leaders that supporting Democrat Anglo newcomers over Hispanic Democrats is treachery is a little bit more racially divisive than just referring to someone as an Anglo.

Describing the candidates as "Anglo Democrats with egos as big as Texas, mouths as big as the Grand Canyon, and much ‘green’ mulah from the east and the west coast" is a little bit more racially divisive than just pointing out who's Anglo and who's Hispanic.

[wink]

Staci Benni

i respected Rep Garcia but no more. His email indicates the "us" v "them" mentality that prevails in this state to everyone's detriment. Being a native of NM IMO is not a qualification for office--in fact, maybe it makes one too parochial.
I expected more from Rep Garcia as I did from Keith Gardner--both are disappointments and should resign.

Khal Spencer

During the last gubernatorial election, someone wanted to get my signature and dollar bill by branding then-candidate Martinez as an out of towner, i.e., a Tejana, or whatever the word was. I found that somewhat offensive and let the person know I thought he was full of (*) in no polite terms.

Let's cast our ballots on people's qualities and records, not where they were raised. If someone knows enough about New Mexico to be a credible candidate, who cares if they just got off the boat from elsewhere?

From NYS anglo who got here via a long stint in Hawaii,
Khal

Mateo Frazier

Au Contraire! At least he has the sand to apologize. Still waiting on Martinez's apology......

W Ben Bransford

Those feelings did not come from nowhere. What one says initially comes from the heart.

Mel Hayes

[thumbup]

Rick Dumiak

Rep. Garcia should resign his position. He spoke his mind and that type of a mind has no business representing anyone.

Pierce Knolls

Is Rep. Miguel Garcia sorry he made the comment, or is he just sorry that one of his cronies tattled on him and leaked his comments to the public?

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