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Theater in the round

Gee whiz.

The Senate Rules Committee decided to vote Monday on Gov. Susana Martinez’s nomination of Hanna Skandera more than three years after the fact?

With four days left in the last regular legislative session of Martinez’s four-year term?

Yes, big issues like Skandera’s lack of classroom teaching experience were involved. But, before the deadlocked vote in the Senate Rules Committee, stalling the nomination there, it was the suspense that was killing me.

Especially since it was clear that Martinez was not going to back off the nomination. Especially since previous governors have ignored Senate deliberations and kept controversial nominees under another title. Especially since there’s been no successful legal challenge to gubernatorial snubbing of Senate snubbing.

But wait a minute. Maybe it hasn’t been all about Skandera.

Is the chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, Linda Lopez, seeking the Democratic nomination for governor? Is the Republican governor seeking a new term?

Didn’t we see photographs of union-organized educators marching on the Capitol on Saturday to protest Skandera and Martinez while wearing T-shirts reading “262 days until we elect a new governor.”

Is this building round?

Oh, yeah, there’s an election in November.

And if you’re tired of the Hanna Skandera subplot at the Roundhouse, progressive Democrats and unions have identified a new villain on stage: Sen. Snidely Whiplash, aka John Arthur Smith, who’s been busy tying the state budget to the railroad tracks.

Sen. Smith-Whiplash, you see, is a Democrat, but one of those dreaded fiscal conservatives. Even worse in the eyes of progressives, he’s never been keen on the idea of draining more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, a key state trust account, for early childhood programs.

For a progressive coalition that includes early childhood advocates, Democrats and unions, that additional money is one of the damsels in distress as our 30-day regular legislative session nears its constitutional adjournment at noon on Thursday.

But the session’s biggest story line remains the budget. Smith’s Senate Finance Committee sent out a budget Sunday night that gives the governor a little more money under her control for public schools.

An odd, new coalition of unions, school boards and school administrators would prefer that the new money be assigned to local district control.

Hanna Skandera, you see, is only one player in a larger drama.

And Smith’s seat isn’t up for election until 2016, so there’s plenty more to come.