Friday, January 18, 2013

In Defense Of Michael: After Week Of Taking Heat Majority Leader Gets Some Defenders, Plus: More On The Power Positioning In Santa Fe 

A Blogger & A Leader
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez took a lot of heat from the Democratic Party base this week when Pete Campos was bested by Mary Kay Papen for the Senate president pro tem post. Campos was the choice of the Democratic caucus, but Papen said she had the votes of the Senate Republicans and a handful of conservative Dems. Campos decided to fold and Papen won by acclamation.

This Alligator maintains that despite the Dem disappointment, Sanchez's power is still intact:

While I agree that Papen taking the Pro Tem position is a huge hit to the Democratic Party,  I don't necessarily agree that the Gov will now easily maneuver the Senate. Majority Leader Sanchez still has the ability to bury bills in committees and also controls the order of the bills on the Senate floor. I have had bills on the Senate floor calendar for close to a week and that never saw debate on the floor. I still believe that Michael will be a major thorn in the governor's side.

And another in defense of Michael. This one comes from a politico at the top of the Dem food chain:

 I don't necessarily agree that the Papen pro tem win was a big win for the Governor,..there were some serious negotiations in the Senate Democratic caucus to get the unanimous vote on committee chairs and issues that would not be brought up. More to the point, in a very short time the Pro-tem battle will be history and Michael will hold the cards on what does and does not make it to the floor. 

No doubt the majority leader still carries the biggest stick, but it is Papen as pro tem who won the power to shape the all-important committee assignments. She is said to have agreed to keep on all the incumbent chairman as part of her deal to get the Dem Senators to all vote for her, but she did get to put her stamp on chair posts that were empty.

For example, when assignments were announced Thursday Senator John Sapien was named chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He became pretty upset when insiders claimed he was going to get that slot in exchange for joining with Senate Republicans to back Papen over Campos for pro tem.

Papen had a handful of Dem votes with her to beat Campos, but there was never a roll call vote so the wayward Dems--widely thought to include Sapien and Grants Senator Clement Sanchez--are not on the record voting for the conservative coalition.

So did Sapien of Bernalillo get his the chairmanship because of his support of Papen? It sure looks that way, but there's no direct evidence.

By the way, capitol watchers say the education committee has a more conservative tilt than last year as a result of the new members put on it along with Sapien. It looks like it was set up by Papen to help Susana's education agenda.


With the conservative coalition comfortably ensconced in the Senate some worried Dems were talking about an alleged two hour meeting Kenny had with Governor Susana, accompanied by a rumored  boast from a top Guv staffer that the new Democratic speaker was on board with the Guv's agenda.

But Speaker Martinez seemed to be sending some signals of his own when the named ABQ Rep. Gail Chasey as chairwoman of House Judiciary and Mimi Stewart as chairwoman of House Education.

They are both unabashed liberals and tough. They will have no problem standing off with the Governor and if Kenny doesn't like the sight of blood, he can look away.

And don't forget Rep. Rick Miera, Martinez's majority floor leader and the majority whip--ABQ's Moe Maestas. Like Chasey and Stewart, they appear battle ready. And they come from very safe districts--ones that the Guv and Jay can't do anything about in 2014.

Maybe Speaker Martinez has all of them tightly around him because he knows he has a proclivity to please as many folks as possible. So if the Guv, Keith and Jay try to make a play to turn the speaker too much, they will have to get through a door protected by a group of pit bulls.


Like Majority Leader Sanchez, the state Dem Party has been kicked around like a rented mule this week so let's give party executive director Scott Forrester some rebuttal space:

Here are the facts of the 2012 election: The Democratic Party raised over $1 million directly for the coordinated campaign that benefited over 40 candidates. We knocked on over 750,000 doors and made over 1 million phone calls, resulting in one the largest ground games and the re-election of Barack Obama, taking out Heather Wilson and electing Martin Heinrich, re-electing Ben Ray Lujan, and the historical election of Michelle Lujan-Grisham, on top of that we gained seats in the House and held the majority in the Senate. 

It was the largest coordinated campaign in the history of our Party. Democrats were considerably outspent by the other side, however our fight for NM families was successful. We should all be proud of what Democrats accomplished under DPNM Chairman Javier Gonzales leadership and build on it for the 2013 Mayor's race and the 2014 Governor’s race. As far as the Senate leadership race is concerned, we respect the Senate Democrats in their unified decision. Make no doubt Democrats under Senator Sanchez's leadership are up for the fight in this year's session.

And there's this rib-tickler from a Senior Alligator commenting on the first week of action at the legislative session:

The Republican played the first few days at the Roundhouse like old school tackle football--with leather helmets and a very limited set of rules. The Democrats seem to believe the game is two hand touch and that awards for good sportsmanship will be handed out at the end.


After a week when all the problems and woes of the state were front and center, here's some positive New Mexico spin from reader Joe Craig on his driving adventures:

The Espanola Valley, the drive through the Rio Grande Gorge, the view of the Rio Grande as you top out towards Taos. The Sangre Cristo Mountains and Wheeler Peak. The Taos Pueblo and the river running through it take my breath away. The air even seems clearer there. The pueblo people are all great, wonder senses of humor.

The drive through Jemez and Jemez Springs. I did it on a Harley after a fresh rain. The fresh smell of the Piñon and Junipers was great. Did you know that there is a pueblo ruin at the north end of Jemez Springs? I didn't. Walatowa Pueblo and it has a beautiful old chapel too. Amazing! And the Famous Jemez Burger at the Los Ojos Bar is pretty great. The White Rock Overlook is worth the drive, just keep on going.

And you could go on and on about our natural wonders--truly a Land of Enchantment.

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