As New Mexico Political Report mentioned earlier this week, we will be highlighting some coverage of old legislative sessions and how they compare to today’s. The obvious start of our look back at old legislative sessions were the two in 1979 and 1981. These were the two years that right-to-work legislation passed both the state House and state Senate. The legislation was vetoed by then-governor Bruce King, a Democrat who was a close ally of labor, both times. Neither chamber had the votes to override the veto.
The New Mexico Political Report staff spent much of Friday and Saturday last week looking in the Albuquerque Journal and Albuquerque Tribune archives at an interesting time in New Mexico House history — the beginning of the “Cowboy Coalition” in the state House from 1979-1982 (and again from 1985-1986). There will be more looks back at this tumultuous time in the state legislature from New Mexico Political Report in the days and weeks to come. It was the most recent example of conservatives taking control of the House of Representatives until Don Tripp, R-Socorro, took the Speaker’s gavel just a week ago. While this is the first time in decades that the House has had a Republican Speaker of the House, the House was run by Gene Samberson from 1979-1982. Samberson was a conservative Democrat from southern New Mexico who was voted into power thanks to a coalition made up of nearly all of the Republican caucus and a small group of conservative Democrats.