State House Democrats prepare for leadership changes, including speaker - Albuquerque Journal

State House Democrats prepare for leadership changes, including speaker

House Majority Leader Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, with Speaker Brian Egolf, right, D-Santa Fe, and Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, behind him, holds a news conference with other House Democrats after the end of the 30-day legislative session in February. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – After an election where they held onto their recent gains, Democrats in the state House are preparing to pick new leadership this weekend.

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, opted against seeking reelection this year and will step down before the 60-day session. He has led the House since Democrats won back a narrow majority in the 2016 election and expanded it in subsequent cycles.

A few familiar faces are now candidates to move up the leadership ladder.

House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, is a candidate to be the Democratic nominee for speaker.

Whoever wins the endorsement of the Democratic caucus, of course, will be well-positioned to serve as speaker, given that Democrats would hold a 45-25 majority in the House, according to unofficial election results.

The exact composition of the chamber isn’t set yet, however, as two races are so close they will trigger an automatic recount.

The third-ranking Democrat in the House – Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos of Las Cruces – said Thursday that she is a candidate to become majority leader. She told the Journal she has “the experience in leadership and southern New Mexico, and our rural communities deserve to have a voice.”

The full scope of potential candidates for leadership jobs, however, isn’t clear. Caucus meetings are private, and some candidates or lawmakers may not want to tip their hand ahead of time.

But the choices are expected to be announced sometime Saturday.

To be voted on by the caucus are a nominee for speaker and choices for majority floor leader, majority whip and caucus chair.

The speaker presides over the House as a whole. The majority leader works with the speaker and the minority leader on the flow of legislation before the full chamber and other strategic decisions.

The whip is often someone who builds support for the party’s bills and helps shape broader strategy.

The caucus chair presides over the private caucus meetings.

House Republicans haven’t set a caucus meeting yet, a spokesman said.

PRC HEARING: The state Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments later Nov. 28 in a case centering on the voter-approved overhaul of the Public Regulation Commission.

The petition seeks to nullify a 2020 constitutional amendment that will turn the PRC into an appointed body rather than elected one.

Three nonprofit groups – Indigenous Lifeways, New Mexico Social Justice & Equity Institute and the Three Sisters Collective – allege the ballot question was deceptively worded, among other objections.

Supporters of the amendment say it won bipartisan support at the Capitol, in addition to voter approval, and will result in a PRC better suited to handle its complex work.


Dan McKay: dmckay@abqjournal.com

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