New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber has a history of radical views, including ties to the Weather Underground and urging empathy for a child sex offender.
Webber has raised the most money of Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, and is competing against four other Democrats, including Lawrence Rael, who exaggerated his resume on his campaign website. The primary will be held on June 3.
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Mark Rudd, a leader and founder of the domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground, which has advocated for the violent overthrow of the United States and committed multiple bombings of public buildings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, endorsed Webber in April. Rudd’s wife Marla Painter hosted a campaign event for the Democrat that month.
"Help elect a pro-jobs, pro-environment progressive Democrat as governor," Rudd wrote, according to KRQE.
Webber tried to distance himself from the endorsement, saying, "of course I denounce terrorism." However, the candidate praised Rudd for being a "proponent of non-violence" and a teacher at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque.
Webber also compared the support of a former domestic terrorist to that of Gov. Martinez’s support from philanthropists Charles and David Koch and former Alaskan Republican Gov. Sarah Palin.
Additionally, Webber has had to backtrack on statements he made in 2008 in support of Neil Goldschmidt, the former mayor of Portland, Ore., who had a years-long sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl in the 1970s.
In a blog post urging empathy for former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer after revelations that he patronized a prostitute, Webber compared the situation to Goldschmidt’s "sex scandal." Webber was a former policy adviser and speechwriter for Goldschmidt.
"Thankfully in sex scandals no one usually gets killed, although there is real damage to be sure," Webber wrote. "But rather than asserting that these men are arrogant, it’s just possible that there’s another explanation, one that should inspire empathy rather than ire: They’re looking for a way out, having gotten where they thought they wanted to go, and getting caught is the only way they can do it."
"It’s why I have empathy for Eliot and hope that after this is past, he finds some peace and another way to use his gifts and talents to do some good in the world," he wrote.
The relationship began after Goldschmidt solicited oral sex from the 13-year-old in a basement. Goldschmidt could have been charged with third degree rape, but was never charged since the statute of limitations had run out once the relationship was exposed.
Webber has since called criticism of his 2008 comments, which occurred four years after Goldschmidt’s assault became public, a "smear campaign."
"There's an anonymous email circulating that says some nasty things about me," Webber wrote in an email. "I'm not sure if you've seen it. But if you have, I want you to hear directly from me. What this smear says about me is false."
Webber than says the truth is that "forty years ago, a former colleague of mine committed a terrible crime," and that he did not learn about it until 30 years later.
"Six years ago I wrote a blog," he said. "In it I wrongly referred to that crime as a ‘sex scandal.’ I used the wrong words. It was a terrible crime. That's what I should have called it."
Webber then attributed the reporting of his blog to a poll that had him as a leading Democrat in the race. "Obviously, some politicians are threatened by that. So the mud-slinging has started," he said. "I assume we'll see more."
Webber did not address his statements calling for empathy for both Spitzer and Goldschmidt.
Webber may again find himself in hot water over his newly released remarks on education, in which he said his son, who has a learning disability, would be dead if he attended schools in New Mexico today.
"We need to change what we’re doing with education. We are testing our children to within an inch of their lives, we are not teaching to the child, we are teaching to the test," Webber said at a fundraiser in April, according to audio obtained by the New Mexico Republicans. "That’s wrong."
"I say this as a father of a son who was born with a very severe learning difference," he said. "And we got him through school because we were able to get him special help that taught to him."
"And I know—my wife and I both know—that if our son had grown up in New Mexico today and had to go through what our kids have to go through, he would’ve either dropped out; he would’ve turned to drugs and alcohol as a failure; he’d probably be in jail or be dead," Webber said.