News from the Session: November 2012
Election 2012 is over. Never have I welcomed the end of an election cycle as much as this one, and I ran unopposed! Here are some thoughts about what we all went through and the challenges we face moving forward.
First, a heartfelt thank you to the voters in Senate District 25 for giving me the privilege of serving a second term in the New Mexico State Senate. It is a tremendous honor which I appreciate.
Next, a huge "shout-out" to all of you who waded through the money driven negativity and exercised your right to vote. The terrible US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United opened the spending floodgates in political races. New Mexico's campaign limits enacted in 2009 were consumed by unlimited contributions to new independent expenditure committees often referred to as "Super PACs."
Television in state legislative races? A Nevada gambling mogul (Sheldon Adelson) donating six figure sums to take out New Mexico's legislative leaders? This, I am afraid, is the new norm. Our best counter is to engage at the voting booth, which is what we did this cycle.
So what else can be done? It is imperative that we start with New Mexico's campaign laws and ensure we go as far as constitutionally possible to require donor disclosure. In the last two legislative sessions, I have sponsored a bill to require these mega-donor entities to disclose donors. Last year's version unanimously passed the Senate but ran out of time on the House floor. This bi-partisan legislation will give voters the knowledge we need in the voting booth.
Our public election financing laws must be expanded to ensure that there is a viable alternative to the special interest money game. Portions of New Mexico's current public financing law have been declared unconstitutional. I will again sponsor legislation to address the deficiencies. Here is a link to last year's version of the bill. I also think we should consider public financing for legislative races, something currently done in Arizona.
Finally, as elected officials, we must listen to you the electorate who want a functioning democracy. This means acknowledging and respecting our differences without letting the politics completely consume the policy agenda. It also means compromise. It will not be easy, but it is imperative.
Again, many thanks for your support, help and guidance.
Senator Peter Wirth