March 13, 2015

Chandler gets do not pass from committee, setting up floor battle

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Statue of a Lobo on the University of New Mexico campus. Flickr cc

A contentious meeting for an appointee to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents ended in a rare do-not-pass recommendation from the Senate Rules Committee on Friday.

Statue of a Lobo on the University of New Mexico campus. Photo Credit: sumrow cc

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Statue of a Lobo on the University of New Mexico campus.
Photo Credit: sumrow cc

It was the second meeting involving Matt Chandler, a former District Attorney, who was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez to serve on the UNM Board of Regents. Chandler received a do-pass from the same committee earlier this week, but the confirmation never came to a vote on the floor because he did not have enough votes to pass.

Instead, it was sent back to the Senate committee for another hearing, which was more contentious with sharp exchanges between Chandler and Democratic members of the panel.

On a 6-4 party-line vote, the panel recommended a do-not pass.

Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican referred to it as “the most intense committee hearing I’ve ever seen in my 15 years of covering the Legislature.”

From the New Mexican blog post:

The Senate Rules Committee voted along party lines to give a combative former Clovis DA Matt Chandler a “do not pass” recommendation on his nomination to be a University of New Mexico regent. There were charges back and forth between Chandler and an equally combative Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto about being “disingenuous.”

Meanwhile, right before the vote, Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle read a letter of resignation from UNM Regent Jamie Koch, a former state Democratic Party chairman, who basically said if political activity disqualified Chandler from serving on the university board of regents, it should disqualify him as well.

The full Senate is expected to take up the nomination this afternoon. Without a vote from the full Senate, Chandler would continue to serve in the position even with the vote from the committee.

Republicans have said that the vote against Chandler appears to be political in nature.

Koch himself was involved in what was a then-contentious hearing in 2010. Even though that was characterized as contentious, Koch still easily cleared the Senate on a 30-5 vote.

Kcoh was approved for another term on the board earlier this week on a unanimous vote from the Senate.

The last time an appointee was rejected by the Senate was also in 2010, when the Senate voted against appointing Neri Olguin to the Environmental Improvement Board.

Olguin managed the campaigns of Eric Griego and Tim Keller who each defeated Democratic incumbents in contested primaries. She was rejected on a bipartisan vote, something that is likely not to be replicated today.