Luján’s cancer brings an era to an end
From the article:
“Luján was speaker for all eight years of (former Gov. Bill) Richardson’s administration. Through those years he was credited for pulling several pieces of legislation Richardson wanted out of the fire when it appeared they might not pass.”
While the Albuquerque Journal pointed out that Luján is “a staunchly partisan Democrat known for his steely resolve,” everyone put politics aside on Tuesday to honor the speaker’s tenacity in fighting the illness – he’s been battling it since 2009 – and to wish him well.
The Journal and New Mexican both explored what the speaker’s health means for the 30-day session. Luján intends to stay on, but all realize that will be difficult. He was breathing with the help of an oxygen tank on Tuesday.
House rules allow the speaker to designate someone else to preside in his place for up to a day, but not longer. Will the House suspend the rules if necessary?
“We’re going to do our best to accommodate his situation,” Minority Leader Tom Taylor of Farmington was quoted by the Journal as saying. “But at the same time, it’s important that we follow the rules that are there.”
Majority Leader Ken Martinez of Grants didn’t seem to think it would be an issue.
“We have urged him to stay home when he can, just to recuperate, to keep himself well,” the Journal quoted him as saying.
It’s too early – there are too many unknowns – to predict who will be the next speaker and when the battle for the job will be fought. Will Luján be able to finish the session? Could there be a special session this year? Or will the new speaker be elected at the start of the first session of 2013?
“It’s too early,” was what Martinez, who unsuccessfully challenged Luján for the position several years ago, was quoted as saying by The New Mexican in a separate article.
Rep. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces, who unsuccessfully challenged Luján for the speakership in 2010, agreed.
But consideration of the post-Luján era is already in full swing. Carl Trujillo, the Democrat who nearly unseated Luján in the 2010 Democratic primary and is running again this year, released this statement:
“We fully anticipated this possibility and we wish Mr. Luján and his family well. We plan to make no changes to our campaign. We have always considered our opponent to be the entire political machine, not just one man. More than ever, now’s our time to create the change we need.”
As for what’s next for Luján in his battle with a cancer that has spread beyond his lungs, here’s what Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings was quoted by the Albuquerque Journal as saying:
“It’s a tough road, but he can rise to the occasion. … He always has.”
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