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Governor Loses in a Showdown

The Senate showed during the last legislative session that it had a backbone, and it looks like that just may be a contagious condition around the Roundhouse (subscription):

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, put it more diplomatically.

“The governor was gone for a year. And things in our state have changed in a year,” she said.

“He can’t run for re-election. For some people, that is a factor— lame-duck governor.”

House Minority Whip Dan Foley, R-Roswell, said he has noticed a change this year in legislators’ attitude toward Richardson.

“There seems to be many more Democrats standing up (to Richardson) this year,” Foley said.

Signs of legislative independence are abundant.

Apparently, backbones among legislators is not something Governor Bill Richardson finds particularly enamoring. Or, maybe he just didn’t like reading a headline in the state’s largest paper that screamed, “Is Gov. Now A Lame Duck?” The Governor is bent on testing those newly found backbones with threats and challenges (subscription):

Richardson said he would press the Legislature in 2009 to address the employer payment mandate and insurance requirement if lawmakers approve an acceptable health care bill this session.

The governor hinted that he would call a special session if lawmakers fail to make the change he wants for the appointment of the authority’s executive director.

“I don’t pose veiled threats. I’ve had special sessions before,” Richardson said. ” And I’d say the odds are, if there is insufficient action on health care reform, there will be a special session.”

Well, I’d say “odds are” if the Governor called a special session when every member of the Legislature is up for re-election, he will unequivocally prove that he is a lame duck Governor. I am confident that Senate, and quite possibly the House, will stick it to him by adjourning sine die just as they have before when the Governor has unreasonably called a special session.