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Senate Democratic leader blasts state party chairman

Senate Democratic Majority Leader Michael Sanchez today publicly criticized the state Democratic Party chairman, Sam Bregman, for comments he made about another Democratic lawmaker.

In a blistering speech on the Senate floor, Sanchez said Bregman was wrong to say last week that if Senate Finance Chairman John Arthur Smith was going to continue to block an early childhood education proposal, he should switch parties and become a Republican.

Sanchez he was embarrassed by Bregman’s attack on Smith, and apologized to Smith. He said political party leaders have no business telling legislators how to vote. And he said there is room for diversity and disagreement among Democrats.

Bregman made the comments about Smith after he announced that the early childhood measure was a priority of the party during the current 30-day session. Smith refused last year to schedule a vote on the proposal in the Finance Committee. The Deming Democrat  doesn’t like the idea of increasing distributions from the state’s permanent fund to pay for early childhood programs.

Bregman today defended his comments. He said he wouldn’t criticize a lawmaker’s vote on an issue, but he said it’s wrong to keep the proposal from coming to a vote at all.