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Most Progressive NM Senator Ortiz y Pino Runs for Lt. Governor

By Steve Terrell  Posted by Stephen Fox (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   4 comments
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Senator Ortiz y Pino at Obama rally in Albuquerque last fall

by Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican

Democratic State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino just spilled the beans on his intention to enter the 2010 race for New Mexico Lt. Governor to Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Steve Terrell. Ortiz y Pino says he'll likely make a formal announcement sometime this summer, likely in July. Here's Terrell's article on the revelation. Excerpts:

First elected to the Senate in 2004, Ortiz y Pino said he came to realize that under the Legislature's seniority system, it would take years to get a committee chairmanship or other leadership position.

"I think if I'm going to have more of an impact, I should run for lieutenant governor," Ortiz y Pino said of the $85,000-a-year job, which includes presiding over Senate sessions.

"I think it would be great to work with Diane Denish," he said of the current lieutenant governor, who is running for the Democratic nomination as governor. "I have no ambitions beyond that. I'm not aiming to be a (U.S.) senator or governor."

Denish, he said, has a good understanding of how to effectively give responsibilities to the lieutenant governor. Ortiz y Pino, who has held positions with advocacy groups, charities and government agencies, including four years with Albuquerque's Department of Family and Community Services, said he'd like to lead an effort to reform the behavioral health system in New Mexico.

He was a founder of a private adoption and foster care agency in Albuquerque called La Familia.

So far, the only person who's announced he or she in the race is Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano. Other names being mentioned as possible candidates are State Auditor Hector Balderas, State Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon and State Senator Linda Lopez.

Terrell's article provides a summary of Ortiz y Pino's political experience and sheds light on the Senator's most prized accomplishments.

Ortiz y Pino said his proudest achievements as a state senator are sponsoring the Working Family Tax Credit bill, which passed in 2008, and sponsoring the Winrock TIDD bill, which passed this year. TIDDs, or tax increment development districts, are a controversial public financing method for developments. The Winrock project is a planned retail and office space project on the 90-acre Winrock Mall site in northeast Albuquerque, which currently is vacant.

Stephen Fox, Editor of the New Mexico Sun News in Santa Fe, sent me this comment about Ortiz y Pino's plans:

This is some major good news at a time when there seems to be a dirth of good political news, about a candidacy which will work to continually revitalize and re-inspire New Mexico political idealism, and one that is indeed long overdue. From Scooby's law, to election reform, to consumer protection issues like banning aspartame, to being the main political force behind the state legislature's articles of impeachment of Bush and Cheney -- Gerald Ortiz y Pino has been the brains and impetus behind so many progressive and beneficial measures; his tenure as Lt. Governor will produce even more benefits for our needy State of New Mexico!

Photo by M.E. Broderick.

comment by Jim at Democracy for New Mexico:

Jerry would be perfect for the project of working on behavioral health issues as LG. He has worked on these kinds of issues for years and is one of the most sincere advocates for the improvements we need.

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