MLG Caves to Senator Smith: Don’t Expect Much From This Session

Joe Monahan’s New Mexico Politics reported that the Governor will not challenge Sen. Smith for bolder commitments of resources to address poverty, addiction, and early childhood needs. 2020 session could be tough, but June primaries may be the fix. Read on…

Actions & Events. There are several very compelling events coming as we head to the Roundhouse Session. Go to our Actions & Events page for times, locations, and more detailed information on each of the following events:

  • Los Alamos Study Group action TOMORROW (Wednesday) at noon at Santa Fe City Hall to protest plutonium pits and LANL involvement in midtown project;
  • Jan 15 and 16 Retake visits Las Cruces and Silver City;
  • Jan. 15 noon a webinar on putting race and class equity front and center in advocacy;
  • Jan. 15 1pm Union of Concerned Scientists Webinar on the importance of voter turnout and election integrity and how climate focused campaign rhetoric can engage and motivate.
  • Jan. 18 Women’s March in Santa Fe;
  • Jan. 21 PRC San Juan Replacement Power Hearings begin;
  • Jan 21 Governor’s message to the legislators (and us) kicks of the 2020 Session
  • Jan 21 YUCCA plans for the kick-off of the 2020 legislative session
  • Jan. 21 Retake Our Democracy Legislative Launch. Find out about the bills we will be supporting, how we will support your advocacy and what you can do during the 2020 session.

Governor Sends Conservative Message About Session. June Primary Must Be Our Message to Her

Retake Our Democracy’s 2019 Legislative Legislative Report Card laid out clearly how a handful of Democratic centrist Senators are able to throttle the priorities of the vast majority of the NM House and the people of NM. Eric Shimamoto’s brilliant video, Fix the Senate, lays out with even greater precision than the Report Card how the Senate Democrats In Name Only (DINOs) caucus with the GOP to stymie progressive legislation. Find a link to Fix the Senate on the right side of our new website home page. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch.

Together, the Report Card and Fix the Senate offer an excellent explanation of how the Roundhouse works and why we should have known that the conservative Democratic Senators would throttle progress in 2020. Almost nothing has changed in the Senate since 2019 and so the same forces that stymied one good bill after another in 2019 are still in place in 2020, and with only 30 days, that makes it even harder to advance things. According to Joe Monahan’s Jan. 13 blog, the Governor has decided not to challenge those Senate DINOs in 2020:

Seeking peace with Smith instead of taking a more aggressive stance means that proposals such as the constitutional amendment to tap a small portion of the over $18 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education are dead for this session. In its place is a much more meager measure that would appropriate about $300 million from the oil and gas surplus for an “endowment” to be funded from the interest of that fund. The difference? The LGPF proposal would provide upwards of $150 million annually early childhood education while the endowment would provide perhaps $25 million.”

This does not bode well for many of the bills Retake Our Democracy was hoping would be “on the call” in 2020, as the Governor is not likely to place bills on the call if she knows that the DINOs caucusing with GOP Senators will not allow those bills to move forward.

While Monahan noted that legalized recreational marijuana and Extreme Risk Protection Order would both be on the call, Abortion Decriminalization is not likely to be advanced as the Governor and Senator Wirth have indicated there aren’t enough votes to pass it. It is unclear if other important bills like the Community Solar Act will be on the call and if so, which version. SB 80 Community Solar Act has been introduced by Senator William Soules and there are rumors that a second community solar bill is being developed by Speaker Egolf and Rep. Roybal Caballero and Senator Liz Stefanics. Over the next week, we may well see our aspirations for 2020 sharply limited by the truce with Senator Smith and the rest of the Senate DINOs. Stay tuned.

Monahan points out that this coalition of conservatives, that represents such an impediment to progressive legislation, will only be dislodged with challenges in the June primaries when we have an opportunity to send a message to the Governor and other Senators who are willing to kowtow to Democratic centrists. From Monahan:

MLG has self-reported herself as a “fiscal conservative.” By doing so she has consigned herself to getting conservative results. That may be enough for some, but a year from now when the latest stats on the social conditions of the state arrive and show little change after two years of the administration, frustration will deepen.

That is as why the June state Senate primary elections are so important. An even slight ruffling of the feathers of the conservative Dem incumbents could give this Governor a push away from the status quo and toward the more aggressive stance that she has rejected.”

All of this points to the importance of the June primaries where several Democratic DINOs are being challenged and to the general election in 2020. Because the Roundhouse is still not able to pass good bills, we have reprised our banner from 2016, when our challenge was to flip the House from GOP control to the Democrats. Now we must Retake the Roundhouse to free the Senate of the shackles of DINO conservativism

We did it in 2016. We need to do it again in 2020.

Among our many opportunities to Retake the Roundhouse again in 2020:

  • In Senate District 5, the unrepentant Senator Richard Martinez, fresh from his five-day slap-on-the-wrist stint in jail is being challenged by Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo.
  • In Senate District 30, Senator Clemente Sanchez is being challenged by the President of the New Mexico Federation of Democratic Women, Pam Cordova.
  • In Senate District 28, Senator Gabe Ramos is being challenged by Emerge-graduate Siah Hemphill.
  • In Senate District 35, Senator John Arthur Smith is being challenged by former Democratic Party Vice-Chair Neomi Martinez-Parra.
  • In District 38, Senator Mary Kay Papen is being challenged by two candidates: Tracy Perry, a former certified nursing assistant and now CEO of Direct Therapy Services, and Carrie Hamblen, director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and a former KRWG host.
  • In Senate District 8, Senator Pete Campos is being challenged by Certified Nurse Midwife Connie Trujillo.
  • There are at least three solid Democrats challenging GOP incumbent Senators in and around the ABQ area in the general election.

The above list represents a very significant number of opportunities to send precisely the kind of message Monahan mentions above. With wins in even three or four of those races, a message will be sent AND the political calculus of the Senate will be transformed. This is why, despite only a week until the Roundhouse session begins, Retake is heading to Las Cruces and Silver City this week to meet with activists eager to dislodge Senators Papen, Smith, and Ramos. Las Cruces Meeting: Weds., Jan. 15, 6 p.m., Sonoma Ranch Sunset Grill at Club, 1274 Golf Club Rd. Silver City Meeting: Thurs., Jan. 16, 5 p.m., Little Toad Creek, 200 N. Bullard St.

If you would like to help with any of the above races, whether by canvassing or making calls, or if you have not signed up for the legislative alerts, please do so by clicking on the “Get Legislative Alerts” button on the right side of our home page. When you sign up, you can also check boxes indicating an interest in working on any of the above campaigns. If we want 2021 to be different, we must be very active in both the primary and the general elections.

Click here to read Monahan’s commentary on the state of the State Senate.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne



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8 replies

  1. Also, on the 21st, Extinction Rebellion will be at the Roundhouse, demanding a declaration of a Climate Emergency.

  2. After 30 years of John Arthur Smith being in the Senate, I am completely tired of him and so many of his colleagues thinking he’s “God’s gift to the state budget and fiscal responsibility.” He’s a conservative that uses the guise of being some sort of budget guru to advance his conservative agenda. He must go. Thankfully, he has a very promising opponent in the primary, Neomi Martinez – a young(er) progressive with an enormous amount of energy to good at the Roundhouse. Join me in contributing to Neomi’s campaign!

  3. Please add House Seat D-42 to your list to flip. Because of vacancy, the Taos County Commissioners voted 4-1 to recommend Taos Mayor Barrone to fill this seat. He will not give up his role as mayor but attempt to do both. The one question on issues he was asked prior to appointment is his position on Women’s Reproductive Health. His response: Fetuses have rights. This is not a man who represents this district, nor does he represent the majority of women in Taos County. As a mayor he is a disaster, often promising transparency while dirty dealing with the Town Manager on “secret” development projects, wasting public funds to convert our historic town park to a major concert venue — opposed by the majority of Taosenos. We have a good candidate for this position, but the county commissioners did not even do her the courtesy of voting on her as a candidate. Taos is the home of good-old-boy politics and we need a big change here, beginning with putting a progressive woman in House D-42.

  4. We can see the damage that 30 years of John Artur Smith, has inflicted on this state. MLG has betrayed the most vulnerable in our state, the children. We can see the results of 30 years of this, in the high rates of child abuse and neglect, poverty, homelessness and “crime.” The very same people who grew up with the “Welfare To Work” programs, cuts to basic services, mass incarceration and underfunded schools are now having children of their own. Our corporate democrats refuse to face the facts about their Neo liberal policies. MLG has repeatedly placed the interests of the very corporations and interests that have undermined our democracy over the interests of children, just like her predecessors, both republican and democrat.

    Our corporate media here in New Mexico continues the denial, failing to do any context on how we got here. the facts are inconvenient. No amount of negative data, like the rates of crime, poverty, addiction, suicide or social division, has led to any examination. Every legislative session is a surprise for our legislators, they pretend to not see the tactical obstructions, the corporate lobbyists do not point that out to them. They
    choose corporate lies and propaganda over even child well being.

    It is very clear that John Arthur Smith is out of touch with reality, his “fiscal conservatism” has led to the poverty here. This fiscal responsibility focus did not extend to corporate tax breaks, and taxpayer subsidized, corporate welfare. He had no interest in collecting oil and gas revenues to support the schools, or to reinvest in our state. There is plenty of money to be made exploiting the poor, disadvantaged and hopeless in our state, where more than 50% of the population, lives in systemic poverty.

  5. Despite traditional, establishment Dems whining about keeping our party relevant by being middle of the road to voters, the movement of our party is inexorably moving left. Younger voters are driving our culture, our economy, our value patterns, and they are not going away. They are starting their activism, and showing us how to lead. The future is Greta Thunberg, not Cheryl Harris, age 74. Let’s get behind them and their values, support them, vote them into office every where it is practical.

    I also am quite tired of John Arthur Smith sitting on his mountain top in fog. Let’s save our kids and put some decent money into ECE. State legislature, grow some balls. Progressive candidates, there are many of us out here of all ages to support you. Lead now not later.

  6. Bring in some piercing advocacy to three or four must do bills, and skip Retake energy on anything else. The rats of neo-liberalism have already left the sinking ship, MLG among them. Put 95 percent of Retake energy into the election, all obstacles be damned.

    I have lived here nearly 50 years. I have never witnessed a truly progressive agenda from any dem. We still do not have a bottle bill. Duh????? The state methane report reveals that NM, on the tip of methane production, has virtually zero regulation, zero inspection, zero funding and zero interest in risking an underpaid, unsupported and vulnerable inspector to slink into O and G country and avoid being found dead in a ditch. As my college classmate, who was a daughter of a R NM governor, said to me 52 years ago, “NM is the most laisse faire state in the US.”

    Was she wrong? Out of the mouths of babes.

    Remember, Aldous Huxley used the caprock region of eastern NM as the boundary between ‘civilization’ and the Wildlands. Guess where we live.

    For 30 years I was an outspoken champion of enlightened progressivism. I got my butt kicked dozens of times, and still I held fast to the optimism that brains can only get better. Talk about naïve. What followed was 10 years of cynicism. Now, after 10 more years of defiance and in-your-face contrarianism and verbal conflict, asymmetrical guerilla warfare is my final effort.

    I love peace, life and creativity. Compassion is the only rocky trail that draws this forth from the recesses of the heart. But it has vicious enemies, and if you are like me, you must concede that we must agree with the timeless cliché, ‘some things are worth fighting and dying for.”

    Not in the abstract, not as artifact. For real.

    Mick Nickel

    • Whoa, using 95% of Retake energy for the election is a brilliant use of resources, esp since MLG is already prostrate before the Dinos

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