Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Roundhouse Itch: Will Speaker Lujan Get Scratched? Fresh Faces To Arrive, Plus: Another Take On Wilson-Pearce Senate Ambitions 

Speaker Lujan
The addition of several "progressive" Democrats to the State House roster has the wall-leaners in Santa Fe asking if House Speaker Ben Lujan will go unchallenged for the powerful position. The worst kept secret in NM politics is that State Rep. and House Majority Leader Kenny Martinez of Grants will succeed Lujan as speaker when Lujan bids adieu to the post. But when will that be? Lujan has not said and talk of a challenge is now more widespread, if not more likely.

Here is how one in-the-know Alligator lays it out:

"You can count 16 votes for Kenny (22 would be needed among the 42 Dems to name a speaker.) There will be many new faces from the liberal wing of the party--Antonio "Moe" Maestas of Albuquerque, Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces and new Valencia county reps Elias Barela and Andrew Barreras. This could pose a threat to Lujan when the Dems meet in caucus to name their new leaders." Explained our Gator.

But 16 is short of the magic number to seize power and some insiders say rather than pushing for a coup, Martinez and his allies may want Lujan to set a date certain for when he plans to give up power. Also, insiders say Lujan did campaign work for some new legislators and that Martinez was not all that active.

There is also the issue of Martinez's own liberal credentials and whether he can keep the pups lined up and not straying to another potential standard bearer as he plays patient with Lujan. Ultimately, Big Bill can be expected to side with Lujan and perhaps use his influence with the new group of legislators, having helped some of them with their campaigns.

Still, this was a "change election" with Dems taking power for the first time in a dozen years in Washington and many fresh, liberal faces supported by the voters who will now be at the Roundhouse. Ben Lujan is an old guard Democrat. Not all the new reps are necessarily his soldiers. That he will be chosen again as speaker is very likely. But should he keep his sentry post well-staffed? You bet.


Here is the latest on the Wilson-Madrid congressional vote count. Not a whole lot has changed.

Pete & Heather
Our Tuesday blog detailing Rep. Steve Pearce's interest in succeeding Senator Domenici if Domenici retires in 08' had the political circles chatting. The state editor of the National Journal's widely read "Hotline," Quinn McCord, sent this D.C. dispatch that saw things Heather's way:

"If I was a NM Republican, I’d be scared to death of losing that Senate seat...I can’t imagine that Pearce would be a stronger general election candidate than Wilson...She may be “wounded” by her House contest, but frankly any other R would have been demolished this year...I would think in a U.S senate race both candidates would be able to pull about the same 60% in Pearce’s district that Pearce won this year; both would lose about equally in Udall’s northern seat, but Wilson would clearly be able to do better in her own (ABQ) seat against any Dem than Pearce would.

"Is there something off with my calculus?" concludes Quinn.

No, Quinn. You've got the calculus right. It's the omission of the Republican senate primary that is not included in your calculation. Pearce would appear to have an edge with the conservatives and that goes a long way in determining a primary winner which Pearce or Heather would have to be before they get to your well-done general election math.

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