It’s little surprise, but Gov. Susana Martinez appointed a Republican to replace progressive state Rep. Stephen Easley, a Democrat from Eldorado — what’s more, she went all the way to Valencia County to choose his replacement.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
Former Albuquerque City Councilor Vickie Perea — she now lives in Belen — now will represent a good chunk of Santa Fe County come the next legislative session. Her selection means the mostly Democratic District 50 will have a Republican representative who lives far from the center of the far-flung district’s population — more than half of Easley’s votes came from Santa Fe County. He won, too, by 56 percent of the vote, and the district has 46 percent Democratic registration compared to 33 percent Republican.
When a seat opens up midterm as it did because of Easley’s untimely passing earlier this year, county commissions nominate and the governor appoints. For Easley’s seat, nominations came from Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Valencia and Torrance counties. Both Santa Fe and Bernalillo commissioners chose Ann Jenkins, a Democrat from Eldorado, as their nominee, while Torrance County chose Republican LeRoy Candelaria and Valencia commissioners nominated Perea.
Nominations over, the switch of a seat from Democratic to Republican followed with the stroke of a governor’s nominating pen.
Because the switch inches party control of the House of Representatives ever closer, this appointment matters. Instead of a 38-32 Democratic majority, control is now at 37-33, with enough quirky Democratic legislators to make anything possible.
We don’t fault Gov. Susana Martinez for playing politics. That’s the way the game works. Still, we hope the soon-to-be Rep. Perea will listen to her constituents in Santa Fe County — their votes will decide whether she stays, after all, should she decide to run for re-election.
As for Martinez’s comment about Perea being a “passionate public servant,” that’s all well and good. What Perea isn’t is someone who represents the viewpoints of many of her district’s residents. As such, the appointment doesn’t serve the people of District 50.
— The Santa Fe New Mexican