SANTA FE (KRQE) - Lose the battle, win the war.
That's how some Democrats are taking news of Gov. Susana Martinez's Friday afternoon veto of a statewide minimum wage hike passed during the 2013 session.
The proposal would've been a $1 an hour increase to $8.50, the first raise in New Mexico's minimum wage since 2009.
It modeled to some extent a city minimum wage hike two-thirds of Albuquerque voters approved in November.
Martinez had been clear during the session she'd veto the proposal and instead backed an alternative that would havve raise the state minimum wage to $7.80 instead of $8.50.
Democrats ignored her and passed the bill on a straight party-line vote in the House and Senate. In fact, the 25-17 vote to pass the bill out of the Senate was the only such major vote in the 2013 session.
The governor's veto was not unexpected and blocks a key Democratic policy proposal. However, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director Scott Forrester believes the issue's popularity with Albuquerque voters means the veto would hurt a Martinez reelection bid in 2014.
"Democrats who fought tirelessly in the state Legislature will go door to door, talk on the radio stations, TV stations and talk about us fighting for middle class, working class families and Susana Martinez vetoing it," Forrester said.
But the governor's political strategist Jay McCleskey says he doesn't think the veto does any political damage.
"New Mexicans won't be fooled by a political gimmick and we are confident they agree with Governor Martinez's bipartisan compromise that would have raised the minimum wage to the highest in the region at $7.80," McCleskey said in a statement sent to News 13.
Democrats had another minimum wage strategy that didn't make it through the 2013 session that they were hoping would spur turnout.
A constitutional amendment that would've provided for an annual minimum wage increase tied to inflation would have gone on the 2014 ballot. Instead, Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, joined Republicans to kill the proposal in committee.
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