Donisthorpe, 56, died Sunday at his Albuquerque home, apparently of a heart attack, according to his friend and colleague Joe Monahan.
Donisthorpe did polling for Monahan’s political blog, as well as polling and consulting for candidates, issues and governmental entities at the federal, state and local levels.
He worked extensively with the Republican Party of New Mexico, “and he and his valuable insight on the political environment in New Mexico will be dearly missed,” state GOP Chairman Debbie Maestas said in a statement.
Monahan described him as a “very bright, able guy” with a wide range of knowledge about New Mexico. He was liked and respected, “very effective in negotiating, brokering and bringing people together,” Monahan said.
Carruthers, for whom he served as press secretary in 1987-88, said in a statement that Donisthorpe was a friend and “a lifelong student of the body politic in which he has been a central figure for many years.”
“I am proud to have known him and very sorry to hear of his untimely passing,” said Carruthers, who is president of New Mexico State University.
Donisthorpe also worked in the U.S. House from 1989 to 2000, as legislative director for Skeen – who represented southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District – as well as a political strategist and consultant for him.
A native of Bloomfield, Donisthorpe was from a political family. His mother, Christine Donisthorpe, who survives him, was a Republican state senator from San Juan County from 1979 to 1996 and a Republican national committeewoman.
His late father, Oscar L. Donisthorpe, was an attorney, farmer “and seasoned political strategist,” according to the family.
Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff knew Donisthorpe for 25 years and called him “one of the most knowledgeable people in the state regarding campaigning, politics and elections.”
“He had an encyclopedic mind regarding New Mexico political history” and was admired by Republicans and Democrats alike for his knowledge, Sanderoff said.
“So many political consultants become jaded after a while; he was not one of them. He always kept an open heart and he tried to stay positive and upbeat, and I admired him for that,” Sanderoff said.
Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at the Legacy Church East Campus, 4701 Wyoming NE, with a reception to follow in the Legacy Church gymnasium.