LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – All Frank Otero wanted was a little help getting the word out about his campaign.
After meeting with Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, at a political event, Garcia reached out.
“We talked on the phone he said he really wanted to help me and help my campaign,” Otero said.
And Garcia stayed true to his word, sending an email addressed to “Fellow House Members, Senate Colleagues, Elected Official Friends” Monday night.
That email enthusiastically backed Otero and fellow Valencia County Democrat Andrew Barreras in their bids in neighboring districts to unseat Republican Reps Kelly Fajardo and Alonzo Baldonado.
But Garcia also lobbed race-based attacks against Otero and Barreras’ primary opponents, fellow Democrats Jim Danner and Teresa Smith de Cherif. Under a section titled “Treachery in Our Ranks Undermine Barreras and Otero”, Garcia wrote:
A minority of unsuspecting Democratic leaders are supporting the Democratic Anglo newcomer opponents in Andrew’s and Frank’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 money reference appears to be more to Smith de Cherif, who has raised more than $10,000 of her campaign funds from out of state per finance records posted online.
Otero immediately condemned Garcia’s racial comments against his opponent Tuesday.
“I just don’t believe in that,” Otero said. “My grandmother was half-Hispanic and half-Anglo. Some of those comments are offensive even to my family.”
“Those kind of comments just don’t fly in any capacity.”
Otero says he believes Garcia owes Danner an apology.
The remarks also caught the attention of House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, who says he’ll have a talk with Garcia.
“I just have to tell you I’m a little troubled by it and it really doesn’t reflect House Democratic values,” Martinez said in a phone interview. “I just don’t like race to raise its head as one of the issues you should vote one way or the other.”
Garcia declined to answer questions on his comments in the email or back off.
“I did not send the email to the media,” Garcia wrote in a text message. “I have nothing to share regarding my email seeking support for two outstanding candidates.”
Reached by phone, Andrew Barreras said he hadn’t seen the email yet. Also reached by phone, Danner declined to comment on Garcia’s attack on him. Smith de Cherif did not respond to an emailed request for comment in time for this story.
Garcia’s email also included another strange attack on a fellow Democratic representative. In talking about the balance of power in the House, Garcia said Democrats had a 37-33 edge over Republicans but currently “have a renegade Democrat who licks the Governor’s [armpits].”
That reference appears to be to Rep. Sandra Jeff, D-Crownpoint, who has sided with the Governor on several key issues. Jeff was tossed off the Democratic primary ballot after it was ruled she didn’t have enough valid petition signatures.