Wednesday, January 06, 2021

What You See Is What You Get: Rules Change For Filling Haaland Seat Seen Unlikely, Plus: A Dan Lewis Comeback? And: More Rating Of The R's 

What you see is what you are very likely to get. That's the word from our top legislative watchers who say despite grumbling about insider baseball and the public being excluded from a most important decision, the rules for filling the expected upcoming ABQ US House vacancy will stay intact. 

Under a 2019 election bill party nominations to fill a vacancy --like the one that would happen when Rep. Deb Haaland is confirmed as Secretary of Interior--were left to the members of the major party Central Committees in whose district the vacancy occurred. No primary elections. The Dem and GOP party nominees go straight on the special election ballot which is held within 91 days of the vacancy. 

ABQ area Dem State Rep. Daymon Ely has told us he will introduce a bill to sidestep the closed door nominating process that is open to just several hundred party faithful and mandate primary elections be held as well as a special election. 

But our Roundhouse spotters say the bill is a longshot and especially for this vacancy. One of them explains:

Joe, in order for the bill to take effect for this vacancy--which is expected sometime in March--both the Senate and House would have to approve it with a two-thirds majority so it could take effect immediately upon the signature of the Governor. Otherwise, it would become law July 1, too late for this vacancy. However, it would change the rules for future vacancies, if passed with a simple majority. 

So the six Dem and GOP candidates so far in the contest to replace Haaland will wage the ultimate insider campaign. Fewer than 100 votes could get you a nomination. Well, at least it saves on fund-raising. But Ely's measure is still worthy even if not in time for this vacancy but for future occurences. 


There's early positioning in the race for one of five ABQ City Council seats up for election in November. Former councilor and 2017 mayoral hopeful Dan Lewis tells us that he is giving serious consideration to a run for his old Westside council seat (District 5) now held by Democrat Cynthia Borrego. 

Republican Lewis won the district in 2009, defeating incumbent D Michael Cadigan. He left it in '17 for the mayoral run but was defeated in a run-off election by Tim Keller who is seeking re-election this year. 

The district was Lewis-friendly when new boundaries took effect in 2011 but it has grown increasingly Democratic in recent years. Besides Dem Borrego, the two state senators who represent the area are now Democrats.

Lewis, director of operations for Davidson Oil Company, a fuel supplier based in Amarillo, does have name ID and, he says, a record of delivering for the district. Republicans can be expected to consolidate behind him.

Borrego is a retired city employee who this week was named President of the City Council for a one year term, a post that will boost her profile as she begins re-election campaign. City Hall insiders say she needs to not only keep an eye on Lewis but be alert for any challenge from a Dem progressive. 


Readers react to the Tuesday blog where a Senior Alligator lamented the wasting away of the GOP and pined for a competitive two party state. Gordon Solberg of Radium Springs came with this:

Joe, Your Alligator asked the question: "Can we all agree that New Mexico is better off with a competitive two party system?" 

My answer is: As long as the Republican Party remains the party of lies and treason, then we are better off with no Republican Party. We are fortunate that the Republican Party in New Mexico is so weak. However, the November election results from Dona Ana County (a supposed progressive stronghold) show that the Dems won by a significantly smaller margin than in 2018. Statewide, Ben Ray Lujan won the Senate seat by a smaller margin than I had expected. If I were a Republican, I would be encouraged by this trend. 

The Republican Party is always dangerous, and never gives up. We need a strong, reality-based Democratic Party. The Dems are far from perfect, but they’re the best we’ve got. I hope they’re up to the task. 

Conservative reader Jim McClure has this: 

Joe, another factor that has hurt New Mexico Republicans is the purging of moderates by both parties. Our state's most electable Republicans in the past — Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson — were relatively moderate. Mark Ronchetti did better than most R's in last year's US Senate race because he appears to be cut from the same cloth. Most statewide contests in recent years have been a dismal choice between progressives and conservatives.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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