While Republican insiders paid at least $150 per plate to rub shoulders with Arizona’s governor Friday night, Martinez was attending an annual Governor’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts banquet in Santa Fe, governor’s spokesman Enrique Knell said Monday.
Knell said the arts awards were scheduled in February, months before the state party in August scheduled its fundraiser. The conflict with the state arts banquet prevented Martinez from attending the political event, Knell said.
Some observers have suggested that Martinez ditched the party event to keep her distance from Brewer.
Brewer, also a Republican, has developed a reputation as being hostile toward Hispanics after backing legislation that allowed state and local police in Arizona to check federal immigration status by stopping individuals suspected of illegal immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court found the law was unconstitutional and struck it down.
New Mexico GOP Chairman John Billingsley and fundraiser host Tom Tinnin said they were disappointed Martinez didn’t attend the event, but they said they were not pressured by Martinez to reconsider hosting Brewer in New Mexico.
However, Billingsley said the governor expressed concern that a big-dollar party fundraiser weeks before Albuquerque’s mayoral election would dry up the local pool of cash for Mayor Richard J. Berry, a fellow Republican.
“She had expressed some concern that R.J. Berry might in fact have a hard time collecting some money when we were doing it (for the party) there, but there was no pressure either to not have it or to have it,” Billingsley said.
Berry also did not attend the fundraiser with Brewer.
Billingsley said he knew beforehand that Martinez would miss the event because of a scheduling conflict.
Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey said the governor has made an effort to avoid fundraising in the Albuquerque area since June to avoid diverting donations from Berry’s campaign.
“Governor Martinez held her last major fundraiser in Albuquerque on June 28 and has been focused on uniting Albuquerque supporters behind Mayor Berry’s re-election effort,” McCleskey said.
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