Senate Leader Sanchez
Sharp comments on the opening day of the Legislature from Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has the Alligators wondering if the long awaited test of wills between lawmakers and the powerful Guv is about to unfold. At the same time, some are questioning the political skills of Sanchez and wondering whether he has what it takes to change the power quotient between the two rival branches.
Sanchez fired the first shot Tuesday by throwing cold water on Big Bill's proposal to pay life insurance premiums for members of the NM National Guard. The lawyer lawmaker said the state constitution may prohibit such a move. That is Big Bill's most popular proposal garnering support from even the Republicans and winning him national attention. Was it the right one for Sanchez to target as he made his statewide political debut under the hot lights of La Politica?
"Michael is a lawyer and he sees real issues with that measure. But politically he might want to use better judgment in the battles he chooses with the governor," analyzed one wall-leaner at the Merry Roundhouse.
How's that for a welcome to the brightly lit stage of big time power politics Leader Sanchez? Treachery and intrigue await all those who enter. And with a Governor eyeing the ultimate political prize in four years, all of your skills in the ancient art of New Mexico power playing will have to be brought to bear if you hope to change the balance of power, and therefore, the policies under which this state is guided.
Another Santa Fe Gator taking in Big Bill's State-of-the-State speech noted that "Michael was not applauding." Later, the new majority leader, who has been touted for his independence, commented on Big Bill's statement that this should be the "year of the judiciary." It should be the year of the "independent judiciary" countered the feisty Sanchez in a direct jab at Big Bill's penchant for control.
"Sanchez is letting it be know that he is relevant; that the Governor needs to consult with him on these big changes he is proposing, not just hold a press conference and act like they are accomplished goals," offered another veteran Santa Fe politico.
TENSION IS REAL
The Sanchez jabs may or not signal a change in the relationship with the Legislature. These matters are often cloaked in mystery. Who really knows what the discussions have been between Sanchez and the governor? Or if they have had any meaningful discussions. But the best tea leaf readers I have tell me they think the tension is real.
"Bill had it easy when (Manny) Aragon and (Richard) Romero were in the senate. They did his bidding. But now its an open field there. I think we could see the Fourth Floor paying more attention to Speaker Lujan in the House and using their influence there as leverage on Michael and the Senate because the Guv may not have quite the stroke he has had in recent years,"analyzed a Republican with an interest in these matters.
Speaker Lujan was throwing all bouquets the Guv's way opening day. His son, Ben Ray, is chairman of the Public Regulation Commission, and Big Bill helped pave the way.
Leader Sanchez may have jumped the gun in picking on a proposal to aid New Mexico's service men and women, but it did get the signal out that perhaps, just perhaps, we will see the Legislative branch attempt to reassert its traditional powers after being cowed the last few years by arguably the most powerful governor in state history.
We told you yesterday of conservative GOP State Rep. Dan Foley's surprising vote for Dem Speaker Ben Lujan. Well, it didn't do him any good. Foley was tossed off the Judiciary and Business and Industry committee's and was last seen outside the Speaker's door apparently looking for face time in the hope of apparently salvaging a deal. Ah, La Politica. What a humbler it can be!
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