As the newly named minority leader of Democrats in New Mexico's House of Representatives, Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, will be at the helm a Democratic party caucus that hasn't been in the minority in decades.
Following the Republican sweep of New Mexico's lower chamber—where GOP lawmakers now hold a 37-33 advantage following November elections—Democrats named Egolf to post as they head into the 60-day legislative session next year.
Because they've held power in the chamber for decades, House Democrats are now going to have to create a brand new playbook in how to legislate in the minority.
Asked if his caucus would look to the old House Republican tactics that included filibusters and other methods to hold up Democratic legislation, Egolf responds that "it’s way too early to say what we’re going to be doing on any particular issue." But he hints at a strategy. He says this of his role as minority leader: "Trying to define as clearly as possible what it means to be Democrat."
That includes forcing debate on Republican-led legislation. "It’s our role now to hold the Republicans accountable," he says.
Egolf, an attorney by trade who has said that he plans to serve only one term as minority leaders, says legislative priorities for House Democrats will include increasing the statewide minimum wage to "at least" $10.10 an hour, reducing the amount of state-imposed standardized testing in schools and "tax fairness."
The session begins on Jan. 20.