Friday, November 19, 2010

Speaker Weekend: House Dems Meet Saturday, But Lujan Could Be Kept Lingering, Plus: R Consultant Tells How Party Picked Up All Those House Seats 

  • Saturday update: State House Democrats stuck with Speaker Lujanwhen they met in caucus Saturday afternoon. However, Lujan had to overcome a challenge from Rep. Cervantes. The vote among the 37 Dems was not disclosed. We explain below that this vote does not necessarily end the talk of a coalition led by Cervantes and the House R's.
  • After the caucus, Cervantes said of forming a coalition: "No politician closes any doors." Rep. Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces said Cervantes offered Democrats a "new path" and she would encourage him to continue his bid for the speakership in January. Video of Cervantes and Lujan here.
The only firm prediction you get when chatting up the veteran political class over the future of House Speaker Ben Lujan is that Saturday's House Democratic caucus can't be counted on to put the matter to rest.

The Senior Alligator corp believes Lujan, 74, should come out of the Saturday session at the Capitol as the Dem nominee for speaker, but the machinations and movidas seem destined to continue right up until the opening day of the Legislature--January 18.

Lujan's speakership, which began in the 2001 legislative session, came under threat when the R's picked up eight House seats Nov. 2, giving them 33 seats to the Dems 37. The R's aren't busting their guts working for a coalition, but they could get handed one if Lujan can't bring his balky caucus together.

Everyone will be watching to see what southern NM Reps. Cervantes, Nunez, Irwin and Mary Helen Garcia do in the caucus. Will they vote to make Ben the nominee for the final Jan. 18 vote? Or signal an intent to form a coalition with the R's?

Even if they do get behind Ben, Wall-Leaners caution that Speaker intrigue will likely continue right up until the session. They point out that a coalition could come together at the spur of the moment as it has in the past and could even depend on a lawmaker or two being absent on opening day because of illness or intentionally.

No matter what happens in the speaker drama--and the scenarios are more plentiful than Big Bill has exempt employees--the next speaker is going to have to deal in the Republicans and in turn more conservative ways of thinking.


It's a very unusual election when the minority R's pick up eight seats in the NM state House. We asked political consultant Doug Antoon, who was hired by NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates to work the key legislative races, what made the difference this year:

..Yates successfully developed a candidate recruitment and consulting effort that resulted in fielding dozens of candidates most of whom received targeted State GOP support for their race. One area where we were able to gain traction was the vote from the last legislative session where Democrats overwhelmingly voted to re-establish the food/groceries tax. The voters did not appreciate that tax and loudly said so on election day.

That reinstatement of the food tax was vetoed by the Guv, but Antoon says the mail pieces they used on that vote were effective. Combine that with a conservative oriented turnout and you have the R's in their strongest position in the House in modern times.


There's the "Big I" and now there's the "Little Bill"--the interchange that is.


When you are all flash and no cash these days you don't generate much confidence. So it was with the quixotic bid by a Canadian investor as he tried this week to revive the Raton racino before the NM Racing Commission. The racino would cost $50 million to build. The investor, who failed to get the racino built on a previously agreed schedule, offered to put up $10 million to get it done.

That was the kind of math that crashed the United States and New Mexican economies. The commission wasn't buying.


At the Republican Governors Association this week in San Diego, this from Governor-elect Martinez:

I have said over and over again that being a woman and being Hispanic is only one of the small steps. Turning New Mexico around is what is going to be historical.


There have been few reasons to party when it comes to the ABQ business scene. We've been bumping along like a one-legged Roadrunner. But the new owners of one of the larger business operations to open here in the past year or two are having none of it.
Hotel Parq on Central Ave. near downtown will host a bash for politicos and other hangers-on tonight as they wish away the Great Recession with cocktails and conversation. And we wish them luck....

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

Email your news and comments. Interested in advertising here? Drop us a line.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign