- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico House Speaker Ken Martinez says he won’t seek any leadership position when House Democrats reorganize in the wake of losing their majority in the chamber.

Martinez told legislative colleagues in a letter Monday that it’s a time to rebuild and to learn from the campaign, which saw Republicans win a House majority for the first time in more than half a century.

The 55-year-old Grants lawmaker also said House Democrats have a “deep and talented bench” and that it’s time for him to pass the baton.

Republicans gained four seats in the 70-member House in last week’s general election to gain a 37-33 majority.

House Republicans on Saturday nominated Rep. Don Tripp of Socorro to become speaker when the Legislature convenes in January and all House members vote on the top leadership. Tripp will win the job if Republicans stick together.

Democratic Reps. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe and Eliseo Alcon of Milan said Tuesday that they’ll run to be minority leader when Democrats hold their caucus.

Egolf said that, if elected, he would hold the minority leader’s job for only one term. Democrats would either reclaim control of the House in 2016, or someone else would get the job of minority leader because he would not have been successful in shifting the balance of power, he said.

Alcon criticized his party’s leaders for having relied on out-of-state strategists. “New Mexico is like no other place,” Alcon said.

Rep. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque considered running for minority leader, but she decided to instead seek appointment to a vacant Senate seat. Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, will resign his seat to become state auditor, a job he won in last week’s election.

Bernalillo County commissioners, most of whom are Democrats, will forward at least one candidate’s name to succeed Keller to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

State law requires that the governor choose someone from the list supplied by the commissioners.

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