New speaker outs longtime chair from key committee

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SANTA FE, N.M. – After Albuquerque Rep. Javier Martinez beat out fellow Gallup Democrat Patty Lundstrom for the Legislature’s most powerful post – speaker of the House – he exacted a measure of retribution she wasn’t expecting. 

When the progressive Martinez unveiled committee assignments, the moderate Lundstrom wasn’t on the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. Not only did Martinez strip her of her position as chair of the panel, he removed her from it completely. The move means Lundstrom is also no longer chair of the Legislative Finance Committee, which crafts the budget in the months before each session. 

Lundstrom didn’t speak on camera Wednesday, but told KOB she had assumed she’d keep her position as chair. She said the move was a surprise. 

In a formal statement Tuesday, Lundstrom blasted the Martinez, saying:

“I am saddened and concerned that the new progressive regime has inappropriately replaced my steadfast and prudent leadership of the HAFC and LFC in a pathetic attempt at political retaliation.”

Former House of Representatives Appropriations and Finance Committee Vice Chair Rep. Nathan Small, a progressive Las Cruces Democrat, takes the mantle as chair. He praised Lundstrom’s experience, guidance and knowledge on Wednesday, but said several times that the committee needed to do more listening. He also made note that he planned to start meetings on time. 

“I think priority-wise, there are consistent priorities across the state no matter where you go, no matter who you talk to,” he told KOB. 

Republican Rep. Ryan Lane said he’d leave the political tussle to Democrats, but hoped to find common ground on key issues, including tax reform. 

“I anticipate there being a lot of working across the aisle. I think we’re trying to set a new tone in that respect. And I think that’s frankly what New Mexico expects as well,” he said.