Three takeaways from last night’s earthquake in New Mexico’s Legislature

There were a lot of important races in New Mexico’s primaries last night, but the Rio Grande Foundation focuses on the Legislature (the main policymaking arm of New Mexico) and this post is going to focus on what happened in those races last night.

      1. New Mexico’s “moderate” senators took it on the chin. John Arthur Smith was the most notable defeat which will have profound impacts on New Mexico’s fiscal future, but Clemente Sanchez and Mary Kay Papen were also taken down. The defeat of Smith means that come 2021 (barring a massive Republican upsurge in November) there will be little opposition to “progressive” efforts to tap the permanent fund at least in the Legislature. Gov. Lujan Grisham has already made tapping New Mexico’s permanent funds the centerpiece of her economic strategy. Her path to do that just got MUCH easier.
      2. From a fiscal conservative perspective, while Smith has done a lot of good for New Mexico there’s also no concern that he allowed spending to grow out of control on his watch. He’s allowed millions to be paid out in film subsidies and has generally been unable to do much to reform New Mexico’s broken tax code, economic incentives, or budget processes besides block attacks on the Land Grant Permanent Fund.
      3. With Smith gone the GOP (especially the Senate) will need to provide an ideological alternative as opposed to operating as a support structure for Democrats like John Arthur Smith. While there is no question that Smith is better than the progressive alternative on policy his presence also neutered many in the Senate GOP. Two additions to the Senate who defeated incumbent Republicans last night (Gregg Schmedes and David Gallegos) will hopefully provide a stronger “loyal opposition” in the Senate than has existed in the past, but the Senate is still likely to be a heavily-Democratic controlled body next year and those Democrats just became a lot more “progressive.”
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