“The decision to replace me with a white man with less than a fourth of the experience in budget development is extremely damaging to New Mexico with the ever-increasing one-party system that retaliates against traditional, Hispanic, rural Democrats.”
— Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup
The average New Mexican has to wonder: Is replacing Lundstrom, a 22-year veteran of the N.M. House with six years in as chair of the influential House Appropriations and Finance Committee, a matter of not meeting the new Speaker of the House’s “vision”? Or is it, as Lundstrom later said when the shock wore off, a “pathetic attempt at political retaliation?”
Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, was elected speaker Tuesday. A progressive who has supported and passed into law controversial initiatives like legalized recreational marijuana and further tapping the Land Grant Permanent Fund, he has vowed to have a more civil House and listen to all voices. That was a vow welcomed by many, including this Editorial Board.
Yet he wasted no time dumping Lundstrom in favor of Rep. Nathan Small, D-Las Cruces. As a House spokeswoman correctly said, that’s absolutely his prerogative.
But it’s puzzling given Martinez’s vow to bring civility and respect to the House, and to work with all. Does that not include moderate Democrats? And where was the respect when he publicly unseated Lundstrom, apparently without notice?
Lundstrom has been a champion of Democratic causes for the governor, from trying to save UNM soccer to establishing a hydrogen hub here. She donated to four moderate Democratic House candidates last election cycle who took on more progressive incumbents.
Given Lundstrom’s unceremonious dismissal (she told the Journal after “I’m incredibly disappointed, and I’m absolutely shocked”) will Martínez’s leadership really mean moderate Ds, much less Rs, have a voice? And as Lundstrom intimates, will lawmakers have any hope of closing the urban-rural divide to get our state on a path to prosperity?
Voters should watch the session’s next 58 days to find out.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.