Little policy expected from Democrat-led state legislature

The New Mexico State Capitol, known as 'The Roundhouse.'

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Now that Democrats have the majority in both the State House and Senate, it may seem like the possibility of passing new policy is promising, but experts say that’s not necessarily the case.

“The governor’s going to still have veto power and she’s going to use it very effectively, so I don’t expect there to be major shift or change. In fact, you’re just going to have more of the same, a lot of gridlock and not a lot of policy that’s going to happen,” explained KRQE News 13 political analyst and professor Gabe Sanchez.

Sanchez says this was an historic election for New Mexicans. After holding the majority for 60 years, Democrats lost control of the House two years ago. Now, they have it back. Plus, Dems maintained control of the Senate.

Bitter battles in key, swing districts took out several Republican incumbents, including three in Dona Ana County. Democrats also picked up a couple seats in the Senate.

One incumbent senator says a Democratic majority in the Legislature will make for much-needed checks and balances in the state. However, experts say Legislators will have to reach across the aisle to create meaningful policy.

Democrats and Republicans, alike, say they’re ready.

“We’re going to be putting legislation on the governor’s desk. I’ll be reaching out to her right away to ask for her to be a partner with the legislature because there are big problems in our state but there are solutions if we work together,” said Rep. Brian Egolf.

“I’m going to bring an attitude of cooperation and open door and I’ll talk to anybody I think anything’s worth a talk,” newly elected Senator Gregory Baca explained.

Representatives for the Republican Party in New Mexico say Baca secured a big win for the party this election cycle. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are waking up Wednesday morning without their long-time leader.

Twenty-four year-state Senator Michael Sanchez is out and newcomer Gregory Baca is in. Political experts say it appears the role of PAC’s paid off for Republicans.

“I think there’s a lot of Republicans who lost their seat that were hoping out that some of the money, especially from McClesky’s PAC, instead of going all-in on Senator Sanchez, would have been spread out a little bit, and I think a lot of those folks say, ‘hey, if you would have helped me out a little bit I would still be in office,'” explained analyst Gabe Sanchez.

Political experts call Jay McClesky the governor’s political guru and tell KRQE News 13 his PAC has been successful in influencing voters in the past. Yet, this time, without a cap on spending, the group was able to fork over even more. The PAC’s ability to spend without limits is due to the Citizen United decision, and experts don’t believe that will change any time soon.

Gabe Sanchez says because the governor wanted Sanchez out, McClesky’s PAC spent thousands on harsh ads to oust the once, majority leader.

Party representatives are divided.

“He worked very hard in this race and it’s very hard to say exactly what happened, but there was an awful lot spent on the other side,” said Majority Whip Michael Sanchez.

“The Senate Majority Leader and responsible for blocking a lot of Martinez’s legislation there so, with someone else leading the Democrats in the Senate, we should be able to be a lot more successful,” explained New Mexico GOP Spokesperson Tucker Keene.

Political experts say that’s not likely. They expect an even more liberal senator to take over as majority leader. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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