The full Senate voted to stop the appointment of a former District Attorney to the University of New Mexico Board of Regents on Friday.
The Senate voted to adopt an adverse committee report from the Senate Rules Committee on the nomination of Matt Chandler. Ahead of the vote, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, the president of the chamber, noted this would be rejecting the appointment.
Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Chandler in 2014.
The vote was nearly on party-lines, with Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, voting against accepting the committee report.
All other Democrats voted to accept the committee report, and so to reject the appointment. All Republicans voted to reject the committee report.
There was no debate on the motion and only Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, explained his vote.
“There’s things here that are hard decisions to make,” Ingle said ahead of reading the resignation letter of Jamie Koch. The letter is available via the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Koch’s letter announced his resignation because of the actions by the Senate.
Ingle sponsored Chandler’s appointment. Ingle had said earlier in the week in committee that he is a friend of Chandler’s family and served alongside Chandler’s father in the state Senate.
Koch was unanimously approved by the Senate earlier in the week and received high praise from members of both parties.
Chandler’s nomination was nowhere near as smooth.
The Senate Rules Committee voted against Chandler on Friday morning. Earlier in the week, the Senate did not vote because the votes were not there for passage.
The votes did not materialize before Friday.
The Friday committee hearing was unusually confrontational with Democrats like Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, engaging in debate with Chandler.
“I am proud of all the Senators who voted against this unwise appointment from Governor Martinez today. They showed great courage,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez, D-Belen, in a statement following the vote. “It is our profound duty as senators to ensure that we create a stronger and a better future for our students and our institutions of higher education. Today we chose progress over politics, and I have never been prouder.”
New Mexico Political Report will add any responses from Senate Republicans or the governor’s office on the vote.
Rejecting an appointment of the governor is very rare. The last time it happened was in 2010, when the Senate rejected the appointment of Neri Holguin to the Environmental Improvement Board. Holguin was a political consultant who ran two successful Senate campaigns the previous year.
The campaigns, for then-Senators and Albuquerque Democrats Eric Griego and Tim Keller, ousted two incumbent Democratic Senators.
That vote was 25-17 with all Republicans and ten Democrats voting against Holguin’s nomination. Holguin had previously cleared the Senate Rules Committee.
Two Senators missed Friday’s vote, Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, and Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque.
This post was updated to make it clear that the appointment was from Governor Susana Martinez.