Democrats in the New Mexico Senate have chosen Peter Wirth to be the majority leader. And Democrats in the House of Representatives have nominated Brian Egolf to be speaker.
Wirth, D-Santa Fe, replaces Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who lost his re-election battle earlier this month.
“Democrats in the Senate are united,” Wirth said in a news release. “We are ready to lead and find solutions to the enormous challenges facing our state. I look forward to serving in this new capacity.”
Senate Democrats voted to keep other leaders in place during their caucus meeting on Saturday. They nominated Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, to continue as president pro tempore of the Senate, though that requires a full vote of the Senate to become official. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, will continue as the Democratic majority whip. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, will be the majority caucus chair.
Meanwhile, House Democrats met Sunday to elect new leaders as they prepare to retake control of the chamber in January. Egolf, D-Santa Fe, defeated Bobby Gonzales, D-Taos, for the speaker nomination. Egolf has served for the last two years as the House minority leader.
Assuming the Democratic caucus remains united behind Egolf, he will become speaker in January — though a bipartisan coalition challenge isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
“Our campaign for the House focused on the need to create jobs and to grow our economy – and that remains our focus,” Egolf said in a news release. “I feel confident that we can achieve some good results for the state by increasing our minimum wage, working with higher education for workforce training, and leveraging the local economic development act.”
“New Mexico is at a crossroads – although we are facing serious economic threats to our state, we have many strengths in our natural resources, our culture, our families, and more,” Egolf said. “Together we can move our state forward.”
House Democrats also picked Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, to be the majority leader. They picked Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces, to be majority whip. And they selected D. Wonda Johnson, D-Gallup, to serve as caucus chair.
“Working families in New Mexico have been frustrated, and we are ready to talk about solutions to bring them economic development and jobs,” Stapleton said.
“We are united and will put the people of our great state first,” Gallegos said.
House Republicans also picked new leaders over the weekend as they prepare to become the minority party in January. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, who served as majority leader for the last two years, will continue to lead Republicans as minority leader. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, will be minority whip. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, will be caucus chair.