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Friction leads to caucus chairman’s resignation

State Sen. Jacob Candelaria, an Albuquerque Democrat, said Wednesday that he wasn’t intending to go public with his decision to step down from his position as caucus chairman due to tensions within the caucus.

But since a letter he sent to fellow Senate Democrats earlier this week was apparently leaked, Candelaria didn’t hold back in publicly discussing his frustration with Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

The friction between Candelaria and Wirth stems largely from a coal power plant bill sponsored by Candelaria during this year’s 30-day session.

The bill stalled in a Senate committee after Wirth and other Senate Democrats opposed it, and Wirth later cited the bill’s defeat as a top legislative accomplishment in a post-session letter to constituents.

That rankled Candelaria, who accused Wirth of “attacking” his legislation.

“I’m still a member of the caucus, and I’m still a proud Democrat,” Candelaria told the Journal. “I just felt like I no longer had the confidence of my majority leader.”

He also said he feels no personal ill will toward Wirth, who was elected Senate majority leader in December 2016.

Wirth signaled likewise in a Wednesday statement.

“Sen. Candelaria has been a valuable member of our leadership team and I am sorry to see him resign as caucus chair,” he said.

Boost for pearce: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be coming to New Mexico next week to bolster Steve Pearce’s gubernatorial campaign.

Walker, who sought the Republican nomination for president in 2016, has clashed repeatedly with labor unions and targeted collective bargaining during his tenure as the Badger State’s governor.

He has also stumped for other Republican gubernatorial candidates in recent months, and his planned visit to New Mexico comes roughly three months before the state’s June 5 primary election.

Pearce announced last year that he would forgo a re-election bid to the southern New Mexico-based 2nd Congressional District seat he has held since 2010 – he also held the seat previously – and is running unopposed for the GOP nomination for governor.

He would face one of four Democrats vying for the office in the November general election.

The March 7 fundraiser will be held in Albuquerque. The requested price tag is $250 per person or $500 per couple, according to an invitation for the event.

Dan Boyd:


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