Luján keeps job as speaker


Speaker Ben Luján (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

House Speaker Ben Luján survived a challenge to his leadership today and will keep his position as the second most powerful official in state government.

In the end, Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, wasn’t even nominated for the position after it became clear that pressure from the tea party had led a number of Republicans to refuse to join a potential bipartisan coalition to make Cervantes the speaker.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to continue to serve as your speaker,” Luján said in a speech he gave after the vote.

Cervantes and two of three Democrats who had publicly supported his attempt to overthrow Luján all voted for Luján. The only other member nominated to be speaker was Minority Leader Tom Taylor.


It was a largely party-line vote, but Rep. Andy Nuñez, D-Hatch and a Cervantes supporter, refused to cast a vote, instead saying “present” when his name was called. The totals were 36 votes for Luján and 33 for Taylor, plus Nuñez’s “present” vote.

Late last week, just before tea parties from around the state started passing resolutions opposing a potential coalition, many believed Cervantes’ chances of overthrowing Luján were good. But, in the end, sources said some Republicans were not willing to join a bipartisan coalition and risk being challenged in a primary by tea party-backed candidates in 2012.

Luján has served as speaker since 2001. This is the second time he has survived a challenge from within his own party. Majority Leader Ken Martinez unsuccessfully challenged him in 2006.

14 thoughts on “Luján keeps job as speaker

  1. Yep. IcarusPhoenix nailed it and ksparks story speaks volumes. We’d get better mileage if we’d quit bouncing off the ideological guardrails.

  2. For once, I have to agree w/ Icarus Phoenix 110%. I was afraid this would happen after I spoke w/ a newly elected Rep in Los Lunas Saturday. He was dumb enough to say, “I say we put it in God’s hands and have Republicans vote for one of their own. If God wants a Republican Speaker, then He will deliver the necessary votes.” I believe in God but, when it comes to politics, I wonder if God even wants to darken the door of the Roundhouse.

  3. jivaro:

    It’s not “flip-flopping” if the guy you were originally going to vote for ends up not even running; the Democrats in question voted for Luján only after the Republicans decided to throw a temper tantrum about the odious idea of voting for anyone who dared to put a “D” after their name, even one who is actually more conservative than some of them. If the GOP weren’t constantly becoming more and more absolutist about every little thing, they could have easily had a coalition speaker.

  4. I hate to tell you folks that the Tea Party had nothing to do with Lujan getting elected speaker. The election was done on party lines, (as it usually is done) but with the Dems who were supposedly backing Cervantes flip-flopping at the last minute. Had they not done so, Lujan would not be speaker and the House would have had a Republican speaker.
    Isn’t this how Lincoln got elected?

  5. It is obvious now that if the rumors are true about Rep. Cervantes offering nothing (except perhaps what the bird left on the pump handle) to the Repubs for their votes, why should they bother and risk the devil they don’t know. I doubt now the Tea Party had much of any influence on this, it is all on Rep. Cervantes head that Ben is speaker, perhaps he will be rewarded???

  6. Typical of the Tea Party and their “our way or the highway” mantra. I hope you all are happy – you now have a crazy liberal at the helm…again. He will not compromise with Gov. Martinez.

    The Tea Party needs to get real and realize there needs to be compromise, we do live in a state that is 60 percent (or more) Democrat.

  7. That’s right, blame it all on the Tea Party “fanatics”.

    Not a single Tea Party member twisted the arms of each of those democratic reps, especially those veteran dems (20 years plus) in safe democratic districts, to vote for the speaker today. They did it out of blind allegiance to their party and a no-principles approach toward preserving an outdated relic of a political system in NM that dates back to feudal Europe.

  8. There are more than a few republicans and Tea Party folks that are just fine with Ben still there. Sets up 2012 just fine

  9. One more reason not to vote anymore I suppose. The Dems aren’t only self serving, they’re self destructing. Nunez is one of the first that needs to go. He didn’t even have the guts to vote his conscience. Pathetic!

  10. At least Democrats have a Speaker who didnt have to cut deals with 33 Republicans and a right wing Governor to get the power.

  11. Cervantes will have fun being the chairman of the round house janitorial committee this session.

  12. So let me get this straight: there was a chance to get in a new, pretty fiscally conservative person who favors government reforms as Speaker and who would have been put in with a bi-partisan group of middle of the roaders, over a guy like Ben Lujan, who is the classic representation of the hated, patron, Santa Fe politician, but the Tea Party changed this? This is the same Tea Party that claims to be non-partisan, focussed on fiscal responsibility, and wants to change the way things are done in Santa Fe?

    Are you guys serious? Well, you know what they said in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Tea Party people; you know have great power. That means you now share in the responsibility of having Ben Lujan as speaker. I hope you all enjoy the results.

  13. Congratulations to the Tea party fanatics for getting Ben Lujan elected Speaker of House.