- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Don Tripp of Socorro is the new top leader in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Split along party lines, lawmakers voted 37-32 in favor of the Republican taking over as House speaker. The vote came shortly after the Legislature convened Tuesday for a 60-day session.

Democrats had nominated Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela, D-Santa Fe.

The GOP gained enough seats in the November general election to take control of the House for the first time in 60 years.

The House has 70 members: 37 Republicans and 33 Democrats. Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, was the only member not in attendance.

The speaker largely controls the legislative agenda in the House and appoints chairmen and members of committees, which conduct much of the work of the Legislature by approving and rejecting bills.

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