SANTA FE – Former top-ranking New Mexico House Republican Tom Taylor said Tuesday that he harbors no hard feelings about losing his leadership position during a GOP caucus meeting this week.
Rep. Donald Bratton of Hobbs, who had been the House Republican whip for the past two years, challenged and defeated Taylor, a Farmington resident who had held the minority floor leader position since 2006.
“There’s no animosity at all,” said Taylor, who described Bratton and himself as friends.
Bratton, a retired oil company executive and the former mayor of Hobbs, said he decided the time was right to run for the minority floor leader post after several people encouraged him to run. He said he told Taylor about his intentions before Monday’s caucus meeting.
“We agreed we’d put our fate in the hands of the caucus,” Bratton told the Journal.
The caucus voting was conducted via secret ballots, so it’s unclear exactly how close the leadership elections ended up, he said.
The leadership shake-up also included Rep. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque being elected House GOP whip and Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Los Lunas being installed as the caucus chairman.
Bratton touted the attributes of the new leadership team and said they have already made plans to meet with members of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office.
“It’s always good to have new folks coming in with new levels of enthusiasm,” he said.
Bratton said he is optimistic the new House GOP leaders will be able to work well with both the first-term Republican governor and with House Democrats, who retained control of the House of Representatives in the general election this month.
Martinez told reporters Tuesday that she did not support or oppose any candidates in the leadership scramble and believes her administration can work effectively with those elected to top-ranking positions.
“I think it’s important for us to work with whoever the caucus chooses for their leaders,” she said.
Martinez also thanked both Taylor and former House Republican caucus Chairwoman Anna Crook of Clovis for their work in leadership positions.
Other internal legislative leadership elections are expected to be held in the coming weeks. The 60-day regular session begins in January.