Friday, March 08, 2013
Senate Smackdown: Martinez Democrats Swat Down Majority Leader Sanchez; The Coalition Rules, Plus: ABQ City Council Action, And: The Blog Photo: Fourth And Fifth Floors Meet The First Floor;
A handful of Martinez Democrats publicly broke with their Senate Majority leader Michael Sanchez Thursday and joined with Republicans to vote down Sanchez's amendment that called for a minor increase in the amount that the state contributes to PERA--the state employee retirement fund.
And the fact that the state's largest government employee union--AFSCME--would not go to bat for Sanchez and supported the coalition was another sign of just how disunited, disorganized, rudderless and lacking in leadership the New Mexican Democratic Party has become.
We have received loads of pushback from Dems since we reported to the New Mexican public--exclusively--on the opening day of this session that the Legislature was going to be controlled by the conservative Senate coalition of Susana Democrats. They have argued with us--sometimes bitterly--but our senior analysts called it for what it was: Once the mainline Dems lost the Senate President Pro Tem battle on the session's first day, the die was cast for the entire session. They were more than right.
To see the Senate Majority Leader Thursday nearly humiliated by upstart freshman Dem Senator Clemente Sanchez was almost too much. It was "cringe-inducing" said one of the Dem Alligators. Clemente told Leader Sanchez he was sorry about not being able to support "his majority leader" but he could not.
Of course he could not and would not because Sanchez and the Democratic caucus won't smack him on his behind and tell him to get in line.
And why didn't the majority leader hand off the amendment to another Senator if he knew he didn't have the votes and spare himself the belittlement?
(The amendment failed 18-24 with Democrats Clemente Sanchez, Phil Griego, Cisco McSorley, Mary Kay Papen, John Arthur Smith and Munoz joining Republicans in the vote. McSorley is the outlier--not a Martinez/coalition Dem as are the others. The overall pension reform bill--minus Michael Sanchez's amendment--passed. Details here.)
With impunity, Martinez Democratic Senators John Arthur Smith and George Munoz joined Clemente in arguing that the leader's amendment, which would cost a couple of a million a year, could not be afforded--even as Senator Keller pointed out that state is running a nearly $600 million surplus and Senator Padilla--a businessman who has employed thousands--noted that state employees have not had a pay raise since 2008. And this way anything but a pay raise.
It was so little money, it was merely symbolic, but in many ways the Democratic Party has become symbolic in the Senate. It raises the flag, has party caucuses and sings an occasional fight song. But it is pretend politics. John Arthur Smith, the Governor's handmaiden, and his band of anti-Robin Hoods rule the roost. And that's a fact, Jack.
It appears to be a steep climb for the Dems in their quest to take back the ABQ Mayor's office from Republican RJ Berry, but their chances of reestablishing their majority on the ABQ city council seems less so. The experts say Dem chances hinge on Council District 7 in the ABQ NE Heights.
The seat is held by Republican Mike Cook who may not run again and if he does he is seen as vulnerable. Dem Diane Gibson announced her candidacy this week for the October election. She says she has worked as a Sandia National Laboratories prototype machinist, an environmental safety coordinator and tax professional.
Republican Louis Schiffman tells us he too will run for Dist. 7. ballot for City Council District 7. He says he has two paralegal degrees, an MA in special ed and worked as a research and trial paralegal.
Look for the battle in this district to get the most attention of the council races. The nine member panel currently has a 6-3 GOP majority..
There are a number of other quite complicated matters before lawmakers in the crush of the final days of the session. Alternative media is following a number of them:
...Two important bills that generated intense controversy were heard in committee: Senate Bill 547, the ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, went “down in flames” in the Conservation Committee, while Senate Bill 440, the Lower Rio Grande water bill, glided through Judiciary, on to the Finance Committee...
It seems the annual basketball game between the House and Senate generates as much intensity as the argument over repealing driver's licenses for the undocumented. We get a completely biased report from courtside:
The House Aggies defeated the Senate Lobos 40-33 last Friday night in a charity basketball game that raised over $20,000 for the UNM Cancer Center. Reps. Bill McCamley & Zach Cook lead a balanced attack with 8 points each. (Video here
The Senate was a heavy favorite as it acquired the House’s best player in newly elected Sen. Bill O’Neill. The election additions of Sens. Mark Moores (6’5”) & 27-year Cliff Pirtle (6’1”) added to the trio of 30-somethings Sens. Howie Morales, Tim Keller & Sapien.
The Senate jumped out to early leads. That’s when Rep. McCamley came alive with a deep three to awaken the House which closed the gap to 23-20 at halftime....The wheels fell off the Senate squad as the House reeled off 14 straight points. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas contributed by controlling the tempo in the fourth quarter and had ice in his veins at the line.
Rep. Carl Trujillo (who took Sen. Sapien up on his bet for the loser to wash the winner’s car on the steps of the Roundhouse) was not to be denied as he epitomized the House’s “refuse to lose” attitude....
The House has won 13 of the last 14 games.
Maestas had "ice in his veins?" You don't suppose he was the author of this dispatch, do you?
5th & 4th Floors Meet 1st Floor
Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey has earned the moniker "The Fifth Floor" because of the extraordinary influence he has on the "Fourth Floor" of the Roundhouse where Governor Martinez has her offices.
And the "First Floor" is, of course, the UNM Lobos who have been on a tear this year under the tutelage of Coach Steve Alford.
Alford and Susana have both have had winning seasons of late. But what of the future? Well, that's what makes the game so much fun to watch.
Thanks for stopping by this week. This is the home of New Mexico politics.
Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan
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