New Mexico Democratic Party activists on Saturday elected Albuquerque lawyer Sam Bregman to be their new state chairman.
Bregman, 49, beat out Carlsbad lawyer and former Eddy County commissioner Roxanne Lara, winning more than 66 percent of the vote from the party’s central committee Saturday in Las Cruces.
Lara received nearly 34 percent of the vote at the Las Cruces meeting. A third candidate, Cornelia Lange of Albuquerque, withdrew from the race Saturday.
Bregman, in a telephone interview, called his election an “overwhelming mandate” from the party to change its tone.
“Our party is unified and ready to challenge Governor (Susana) Martinez and other Republicans,” he said in an accompanying statement. “The party will be focused like a laser beam on electing Democrats who will support good jobs and improve our economy.”
Bregman, a former Albuquerque city councilor and former vice-chairman of the party who fell 11 votes short in a 2011 bid for party chairman, has called for Democrats to be more aggressive in campaigning against Republicans and electing more Democrats to public offices across the state.
“I think that our voices are being heard loud and clear across the state of New Mexico that it’s time that the Democratic Party strikes back,” Bregman said in the phone interview.
The effort, Bregman said, starts with holding the Republican governor accountable for what he called “do-nothing” policies that have not significantly improved the state economy.
“I think Democrats are ready to make sure that this governor doesn’t get a free pass on doing nothing like she has the last couple of years,” he said. “… She’s the captain of the ship and she has to be held accountable for it.”
The new Democratic Party leader apparently has his work cut out for him: Martinez’s approval rating among New Mexico voters in a Journal Poll last September was 69 percent.
Bregman says he will make sure Democratic Party campaign efforts extend to all 33 counties of the state.
Democrats also will work hard to beat Republican Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry in his re-election effort later this year and try to expand Democratic control of the state Legislature in 2014, Bregman said.
Bregman replaces party chairman Javier Gonzales, of Santa Fe, who stepped down from party leadership after nearly four years at the helm.
Also Saturday, Democrats elected Kathy Duffy as the party’s vice chair. Duffy previously served as vice president of the party’s Democratic Women of New Mexico organization.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal