If you voted during this past election, thank you for participating in one of the fundamental pillars of our republic. New Mexico’s voters were more engaged than at any time throughout the past decade, and it was gratifying to see nearly 70% of New Mexico’s registered voters take the time to complete an absentee ballot, vote early in-person, or show up at the polls on Election Day.
With any election, people are either thrilled or disappointed with the outcome depending upon which candidates won or lost. Of course, this year’s election at the national level is filled with lawsuits and claims of fraud on one side, while the other side is celebrating a possible victory. But, here in the Land of Enchantment, the election seemed to indicate it was mostly business as usual as most of the winners were familiar names. There was no big wave to turn one party out of power as the majorities in both the New Mexico House and Senate were relatively unchanged. In fact, current results indicate at least one or maybe two new Republican seats in the House and one new Democrat seat in the Senate.
While this may have been a status-quo election in New Mexico, there was some electoral history made in our great state. For the first time since statehood, all three of New Mexico’s members to the U.S. House of Representatives will be women. It should also be pointed out that two of those members are from minority communities. History was also made in the New Mexico House of Representatives where women members will now outnumber their male counterparts when the 55th session of the Legislature begins next year.
With the growing influence of women in our state Legislature, I think now is the perfect time for New Mexico to finally have a female speaker of the House. At the beginning of the 2019 legislative session, the Senate selected the first woman to serve as Senate president pro tempore, and it’s time for the House to follow suit in selecting a woman to its highest leadership post.
It also makes sense that with a majority of the New Mexico House now made up of women, it would send a powerful signal of inclusion to have our minority-majority state break the remaining “glass ceiling” in state politics by finally having a woman speaker. Such action is frankly long overdue.
Although I am only one member of the House Republican Caucus, I believe every one of my GOP colleagues would strongly support a woman candidate for speaker. Equally important, I think such a candidate could win the speakership with a carefully constructed bipartisan coalition that could gain the 36 votes necessary among the chamber’s membership.
Along with electing a woman speaker, this bipartisan coalition could also set a new tone within the Legislature where Democrats and Republicans would once again be encouraged to work together to make New Mexico a better place. Unfortunately, over the past several legislative sessions, the New Mexico House has evolved into a highly partisan gathering where it is rare for Republicans and Democrats to reach a consensus on any issue. Yet, a woman speaker matched with a bipartisan coalition of legislators would finally end the partisan bickering and renew the concept that compromise is the essential ingredient to ensuring the New Mexico House makes the best decisions for all New Mexicans.
The key, however, to achieving this historic goal is to convince a woman legislator to step up and answer the call. If such a candidate could be found, the words “Madame Speaker” would most certainly have a nice ring to it in the Roundhouse.