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SANTA FE – Republicans in the state House will have a new leadership slate in the upcoming legislative session – as will the Democrats – after choosing Rep. Ryan Lane of Aztec as the GOP floor leader.
Lane, 40, succeeds outgoing House Minority Leader James Townsend, who didn’t seek reelection to the post, which he’d held for four years.
The leadership transition comes after Republicans failed to make the gains they’d hoped in the general election.
Democrats held on to their 45 seats in the House, and Republicans picked up one district held by a conservative-leaning independent, pushing their total to 25, according to unofficial results.
The results in two House races, however, were so close that they will trigger an automatic recount.
Lane, an attorney who owns an ice cream shop with his wife, said he and the Republican caucus will be strong advocates for conservative principles, explaining their benefit, he said, not just painting the other side as “bad guys.”
Their advocacy will show “why you should vote for this instead of why you shouldn’t vote for that,” Lane said Sunday. “I think that’s something the Republican Party as a whole needs to do a better job of.”
Democrats will also have new leadership. Earlier this month, they chose Javier Martínez of Albuquerque as their nominee for speaker of the House, in addition to other changes.
Outgoing Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, didn’t seek reelection this year and is leaving the Legislature.
Lane said he has a good working relationship with Martínez.
“It’s a completely new slate on both sides,” Lane said. “I think we have a unique opportunity to set a new tone in the House.”
He said he sees room for bipartisan agreement on crime legislation, revised high school graduation requirements and other bills while Republicans promote “foundational conservative principles – a free market, limited government, strong educational options for families.”
The Republican caucus also chose two other leaders in Saturday’s closed-door meeting – Jason Harper of Rio Rancho as minority whip and Gail Armstrong of Magdalena as caucus chair.
The whip helps with legislative strategy, counts votes and builds support for the party’s bills. Harper, a research engineer, is a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which he led when Republicans held a majority from 2015-16.
He succeeds Rod Montoya of Farmington as whip.
Armstrong, as caucus chair, will preside over internal meetings of the House Republican caucus. She succeeds Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences, who ran unsuccessfully for governor.
Lane is in his first term in the House, having first won election in 2020.
The Legislature will open a 60-day session Jan. 17.