Call it the price of power. Veteran insiders deep in the know at the Santa Fe Roundhouse tell "NM Politics with Joe Monahan" that it appears the State Senate coalition of Dems and R's will be busted, but in order to get the deed done several major committee chairmanships will go to "turncoat" Dems who previously voted with the R's to make the coalition, or were seen as possible crossovers to keep the coalition alive.
The top shocker: ABQ Dem State Senator Cisco McSorley as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. That's the same Cisco who voted with the R's to make the coalition possible with then-Sen. Richard Romero as President Pro Tem.
Another big bomb: ABQ State Sen. Shannon Robinson as chair of the Corporations Committee. The volatile Robinson never voted with the R's for the coalition, but was so incensed at the coup of Pro Tem Manny Aragon at the hands of Romero that insiders say he was a possible turncoat.
Yet another headline: ABQ State Sen. Dede Feldman holds on as chair of the Public Affairs Committee. This after she toyed with the idea of running for Pro Tem herself and maybe even looking to the R's for help.
Another failed Pro Tem contender, Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D-Taos) will remain as chair of the Conservation Committee, according to my exclusive sources who say their information is solid. (No chair for Sen. Pete Campos who also made a bid of Pro Tem)
And one more surprise for you: 81 year old State Sen Joe Fidel of Grants has apparently decided to assume the chairmanship of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee where he has been vice-chair. This after months of rumors that he was not keen on taking on the heavy workload. Senator John Arthur Smith will have to settle for vice-chair, report our Santa Fe Alligators with decades of Roundhouse power playing under their belts. Current Finance Chair Ben Altamirano of Silver City is slated to take back the President Pro Tem's chair exclusively for the Dems and is giving up his finance chairmanship. Altamirano is 80. The old bulls rule!
This deep insider info is so hot I am told that top Legislative Republicans are still in the dark. "When you have the power you act. Ben had to give to get. But it appears that after five years of life the coalition has had a stake driven thru its heart," said one of the Alligators speaking to me from the very heart of Santa Fe power.
It's the Senate Committee on Committee's chaired by Ben that will officially name the chairs when the Legislature convenes in less than two weeks.
The news will be greeted warmly on the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse. Big Bill inherited the oddball Senate coalition of D's and R's, but if they were able to keep it alive under his reign he would look impotent to fellow Dems. Not a position you want to be in when you are running for national power.
The State Senate is looking pretty liberal from this corner. Michael Sanchez as majority leader and liberal Senators McSorley, Feldman and Robinson chairing committees. The R's have their work cut out for them. These chairs have also been a thorn in the side of Big Bill. But only those who dare to play have a chance at power. The Democrats who strayed, or threatened to, are living examples of that.
For Big Bill and the regular Senate Dems this is the price they willingly pay as they invoke the age old techniques of the Movida and move aside the minority party at all costs.
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