As speaker of the New Mexico House, Brian Egolf is charged to manage all legislation presented for debate, maintain order and appoint committee chairs and members. They really serve the legislative process for all parties. Additionally, House speakers have political power, and Speaker Egolf is not afraid to use his for partisan gain.

When Yvette Herrell regained the 2nd Congressional District seat in this last election, Egolf signaled he was going to see to a statewide redistricting map in favor of Democrats, which includes federal and state districts. By law and good practices, redistricting is to have limited criterion — population spread and common interest of the people. It is not to be based on political demographics.

A select 25-member Redistricting Task Force was formed that studied options for three months and submitted its recommendations to the seven-member Citizen Redistricting Committee, which was to make the final recommendation to the Legislature for a vote.

The submitted proposal divided Roswell and Hobbs, which had been within the Republican-leaning 2nd Congressional District, giving those mostly Republican voters to the solidly Democratic 1st Congressional District and took a portion of Albuquerque’s Democratic-leaning west side and gave it to the 2nd Congressional District. Why? For Democrats' gain in the 2nd Congressional District, as per Egolf.

At the end of this last special legislative session, Egolf abruptly and without reason dissolved the Local Governments, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee. The rub reportedly came between the speaker and committee Chairman Miguel Garcia, causing Garcia to resign his chair position.

In doing so, the speaker made a potentially fatal political mistake by alienating Hispanics in norteño country, whose heritage spawns from ancestral land grants and a near 500-year history in New Mexico. Land grant-merced members and Hispanic leaders, including Sen. Ben Ray Luján, have contacted Egolf in concern, but many Hispanic Democratic legislators brushed it off without complaint.


The reason: Egolf controls the Speaker’s Fund to support Democratic politicians. If you want campaign donations from the fund, they will be in exchange for your unwavering allegiance and vote. Want to get primaried? Cross Speaker Egolf.

In short, Egolf is more prone toward the temperament of an old-time patrón, serving partisan ideology instead of representation for all New Mexicans. He seems unable to negotiate policy that may call for understanding and compromise.

The speaker lives and legislates in a world where money provides elitist power, and that is everything. His traits are those of progressives who seem trapped and frozen in their snobbish ideology, which disables their ability to represent the desires of the larger population of our state.

Power grows arrogance and moves governance away from the intended representative democracy by muting the voice of the people, through buying the voice of their elected legislators.

The two examples of district gerrymandering and dissolution of the land grants committee are just the latest examples of why New Mexico needs new leadership. It appears we are still stuck in the patrón system of yesterday.

Tom Wright is a political commentator who lives in Santa Fe.

(3) comments

Mike Johnson

Well said, and this kind of power wielded as he does, is why I call him the ring leader of the new Santa Fe Ring. His erstwhile predecessors who formed that originally would be proud of his incarnation of it.

Jim Montevallo

Of course this is all true and will never change. You can't blame a local yokel like Egolf for being a small time small state hack. In the end the governor signed this and is to blame. She is a joke and a new day for New Mexico requires getting her and her small time sleazy act out of our lives this November.

Richard Reinders

It’s time to clean house from the House to the Mansion.

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