Senate Leader Sanchez Lashes Out At Dem Party Chairman And This Blogger In Floor Speech; Defends Sen. John Arthur Smith As Frustrations Grow Over State’s Standing, Plus: Our Response To The Majority Leader
Not only is New Mexico still struggling with the impact of the Great Recession, the opening week of the 2014 New Mexico legislative session showed we are still facing a “Great Disconnect.”
It began with Governor Martinez’s Tuesday State of the State speech in which she papered over the state’s severe economic difficulties and ended Thursday with blistering remarks on the Senate floor from Majority Leader Michael Sanchez who defended conservative Democratic Senator John Arthur Smith and unloaded a heap of criticism on this blog.
Through both events we saw the state’s political class–both Dems and R’s–unified in denying or deflecting the reality that is so clear when one is not encased in a Roundhouse bubble.
In his floor speech Sanchez first turned his wrath toward NM Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman who last week said Sen. Smith should become a Republican if he continues to block a vote on a constitutional amendment that would use a portion of the state Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education. Railed Sanchez:
No party should ever tell us what we have to do on this floor or how we should vote on this floor…For some member of our party to try to embarrass a member of the New Mexico Senate is just not right, it’s just not good. . .No one in our party, either that side or this side of the aisle should tell us what we have to do.
Then the Senate leader humbled himself before Smith and apologized to him for Bregman’s remarks. Smith effusively praised Sanchez for the favor calling him “honest” and “truthful.”
Those of us who remember former NM GOP Chairman John Dendahl whipping Republican legislators into line as if they were his branded cattle had to chuckle at Sanchez’s tirade. That’s what political parties exist for–or used to—to enforce ideological discipline and to keep their membership in line.
Yes, the Democratic Party can be a big tent but when a guy with a knife starts ripping away at that tent, he has to be called to account.
In My Time
After excoriating the Dem chairman Sanchez then turned his attention to this blog which has focused on the existential crisis facing the state and has joined with those asking Senator Smith to allow a vote on the early childhood amendment:
For the blogger who is going to blast me, I’m sorry. If you don’t like it, come down here and join us. If you want to run for office to see what it’s really like being an elected official run for office and then you might be able to understand what we go through on this floor. We are family on this floor. And I will defend anybody on this side of the aisle for doing what they believe is right and in the best interest of their constituents and the state of New Mexico.
“What you go through,” Mr. Leader? Really?
How about what abused 9 year old Omaree Varlela went through when he telephoned a state agency expressing fear for his life and ended up dead at the hands of his mother?
How about what thousands of people have been going through who have been forced to flee this state in search of employment elsewhere?
How about the business owners who continue to lose those businesses because of a dreadful economy?
How about the sub-par lives of so many children here that we rank 50th in the United States in child well-being? How about what they are going through?
In light of those circumstances it would seem the last priority of the leader of the Senate would be to protect Senator Smith who is one of our most privileged and powerful citizens. Forgive us, Senators, but when it comes to the trials and tribulations of doing your part-time jobs, we are all out of Kleenex.
And, Mr. Leader, if you in the Senate are “family” why is one member of that family allowed to prevent all other family members from voting on the early childhood amendment?
Senator Sanchez, you are not defending the “family” or the Senate as an institution, you are defending one man’s dictatorship and his “right” to block all of you from voting. In turn, he is voting to keep you as majority leader.
The supreme irony is that Senator Sanchez is the chief sponsor of the childhood amendment that Smith is determined to kill.
It’s odd to see Senator Sanchez–whom we like and have much respect for–pull out his long knives on those who have empathized with the social and economic goals he says he espouses. Will the leader make a floor speech with equal passion over his disagreements with the polices of Governor Martinez and her chief political adviser Jay McCleskey? Where is that speech, Senator?
There is, as Senator Sanchez states, a “family” involved here, but he misidentifies it as the comfortably affluent 42 members of the state Senate.
The real family is the over 2 million New Mexicans whose futures are at stake and who see a calcified, insulated and unresponsive Legislature and Governor unwilling to take aggressive action in the face of historic change.