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Papen Unanimously Elected Senate Pro Tem

Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, was unanimously elected Senate  president pro tempore Tuesday.

Papen won the seat after establishing a majority coalition of Republican and Democrat and senators to back her bid for the leadership position over Sen. Pete Campos, whom Senate Democrats had nominated as their preferred pro tem.

The Senate pro tem plays a key role in assigning members to committees, where a majority of legislative debate occurs. The pro tem also oversees Senate business when the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

Papen was nominated for the position on the Senate floor by Campos, who said Democrats chose to back Papen to maintain party unity.

“This action today is being taken so that we act in unison here in the New Mexico state Senate,” Campos said. “This body continues to be a leader when it comes to legislation, when it comes to representing the state of New Mexico.”

After taking an oath of office, Papen praised the Senate as a family.

“Thank you so much for having faith in me,” Papen said.

Earlier, Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding the late Rep. Ben Lujan, D-Nambe.