To some state lawmakers, the governor might be throwing a monkey wrench at primary elections if he schedules a special session in May.
Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a special session for a health care plan that never got heard in the Senate before the Legislature adjourned in February. But some state lawmakers say the session would affect the campaigns of Senate and House candidates during the primary election.
All House and Senate seats are up for election this year. The primary election is June 4, with early voting starting May 6.
Legislative candidates cannot campaign or raise funds during legislative sessions, according to state law.
“I think, sincerely, that we should wait for the next session to look at this issue again,” said Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa, who has a campaign fundraiser scheduled for May. “We have to be looking at our budget to see if we would be able to afford it.”
Campos is running unopposed in the June primaries but will face Republican Mathew D. Rush in the general election.
With the state facing a deficit, there is not enough time in a special session to answer questions about funding the bill, according to Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, who runs unopposed for the District 27 Senate seat. Ingle said the governor’s bill is estimated to cost between $350 million to $1 billion. He said revenue estimates are due in late June.
“Before we look at legislation like that and pass legislation, we’ve got to have a better idea of where our revenues are coming from,” he said. “They fell this year by about $200 million, I think they’re supposed to fall by about another $100 million to $130 million. We better be awful careful before we pass things that cost a lot of money.”
Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, doubts Richardson will go through on the special session.
“(A special session) three weeks before the primary actually stops fund-raising, it stops campaigning and in addition to that, (on May 12) the first fund-raising report is due,” he said. “The timing, I think, doesn’t help the legislator who has primary candidates.”
Harden is running unopposed in primaries for the District 7 Senate seat but is running against Thomas Jeffrey Carr in the general elections.