Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber is drawing criticism from Republicans after a news report that the Santa Fe entrepreneur’s campaign is backed by a former member of the Vietnam-era radical leftist group Weather Underground.
Mark Rudd, a longtime Albuquerque-area resident and retired instructor at Central New Mexico Community College, was a co-founder of the group, known for bombing dozens of government buildings and banks across the country during the late ’60s and early ’70s in protest of the Vietnam War. Rudd years ago renounced his involvement in the Weather Underground.
Rudd, in a telephone interview Tuesday, said he endorsed Webber in the New Mexico governor’s race after hearing the candidate speak during a fundraiser hosted by his wife, Marla Painter, at the couple’s South Valley home on April 12. The event raised about $1,100 for Webber’s campaign, currently against four Democratic opponents.
Webber, in a prepared statement this week on Rudd’s endorsement, said: “I just met Mark Rudd. Of course I denounce terrorism and understand Mark Rudd regrets his involvement with the radical anti-government group from the 1960s. For over three decades Mark Rudd has been a teacher at CNM, a community activist, and an advocate of nonviolence. If Gov. Martinez wants to discuss her supporters, she should start with the Koch brothers and Sarah Palin.”
After a KRQE-TV report Monday night on Rudd’s support for Webber, the national Republican Governors Association – for which Gov. Susana Martinez is an executive committee member – took aim at Webber, calling his “ties” to Rudd “deeply disturbing.”
“Even when given the chance, Webber chose not to reject Rudd’s support; he defended him,” RGA spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a new release. “New Mexicans deserve better than a candidate for governor who spends time with a man who founded a group that pledged political and domestic terrorism.”
Later on Tuesday, the New Mexico governor’s campaign joined the RGA in criticizing Webber for having the “support of a notorious domestic terrorist.”
“Alan Webber is a far-left, fringe candidate whose extreme views would be perfectly suitable for someone running for student body president of Berkeley in the 1960s, but are completely out of step with everyday New Mexicans,” Martinez campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez said.
Webber campaign manager Neri Holguin said the attack from Martinez and the RGA is evidence that they see Webber’s candidacy as a threat.
“It’s clear that they believe Alan, who has a background in business and entrepreneurship and has ideas for creating jobs, is the opponent the Republicans don’t want to face this November,” Holguin said.
Rudd has a record of supporting Democratic candidates in campaigns in which his endorsement was not made an issue.
Rudd called the Republican criticism of ex-radicals’ support for candidates outdated.
“It’s a 6-year-old tactic,” Rudd said. He cited criticism of Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential race for “palling around with terrorists” after reports Obama was backed by another former Weather Underground member, Bill Ayers.
Rudd was one of the first Weather Underground members to turn himself in to authorities, in 1977. Rudd faced misdemeanor charges from his involvement in protests at Columbia University and in the Chicago “Days of Rage.” Federal charges related to the bombings were dropped after the FBI was found to have engaged in illegal wiretapping while investigating the group.