Governor will be tempted to replace Democrat with Republican

By Rob Nikolewski on October 15, 2013
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By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE — By the end of this month, will decide on a replacement for a state representative who died in August.

“She will select someone from the candidates she has available to her at that time,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog. “The session is just a few months away, and whoever takes that seat will need time to get completely up to speed on the important issues facing New Mexico.”

WHAT WILL SHE DO?: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she’ll appoint a replacement for a state representative by the end of this month. NM Watchdog photo.

, a Democrat in House District 50, died from complications after surgery two months ago and his replacement has been a hot topic at the Roundhouse.

Here’s why:

Democrats hold a 38-32 lead in the House of Representatives and if Martinez appoints a Republican to complete the remaining year left in Easley’s term, the six-vote margin will shrink to four (37-33), which could make debate on closely-watched legislative issues even more intense.

Because the upcoming January session will be held on an even-numbered year (2014), the Legislature will meet for just 30 days, and since Martinez will be running for a second term in November 2014, legislative priorities figure to loom large.

Rules require that a sitting governor appoint a replacement from a list of nominees submitted by county commissions in the affected district.

District 50 extends over four counties: Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Torrance and Valencia.

Democrats have majorities in the Santa Fe and Bernalillo county commissions while Republicans have the advantage in Torrance and Valencia.

The Torrance County Commission and the Valencia County Commission also named a

Bernalillo County spokesman Larry Gallegos told New Mexico Watchdog that the Bernalillo County Commission will choose its nominee on Oct. 22.

Santa Fe County spokeswoman Kristine Mihelcic told New Mexico Watchdog that the Santa Fe County Commission will choose its nominee by Oct. 29 “at the latest.”

If Martinez holds to her pledge to choose a successor by the end of October, that would mean that a replacement for Easley will be announced by Oct. 31..

Democrats say that since Easley , Martinez should select a Democrat.

“I think the process should honor the will of the people,” Speaker of the House , D-Grants, told the in August. “That’s a Democratic district, has been as long as I can remember.”

But Democrats may have undermined their own case by some of their machinations back in 2011.

At that time, Republican state Sen. Kent Cravens of Albuquerque resigned his seat to become a lobbyist for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Cravens represented one of the most Republican Senate districts in the state. The district included Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, but the respective county commissions had Democratic majorities. The district might have been a GOP bastion, but the county commissioners in Bernalillo and Sandoval each nominated Democrat and trial lawyer Lisa Curtis to replace Cravens — even though Curtis didn’t even live in Sandoval County.

On top of that, Democrats had a nearly 2-to-1 majority in the Senate, so picking up an additional seat didn’t make much practical difference. With just one candidate to choose from, Martinez had no choice but to appoint Curtis.

At the end of this month, Martinez may turn the tables on Democrats.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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One Comment For This Post So Far

  1. 1:15 pm on October 24th, 2013

    Rob Nikolewski, I’ve go through your article deeply and learned something. Also thinking about your logics.

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