- Associated Press - Saturday, November 19, 2016

BELEN, N.M. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers have named Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe as the new majority floor leader for the New Mexico state Senate to replace departing Sen. Michael Sanchez.

Wirth was named majority leader by Democratic senators during a meeting Saturday in Belen.

Senate Democrats re-nominated Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces as Senate president, pending confirmation by the chamber in January.

Sen. Michael Padilla of Bernalillo was chosen as majority whip and Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Bernalillo will be majority caucus chair.

Democrats will control both legislative chambers next year. Republicans lost control of the House in the Nov. 8 election.

Sanchez lost his seat to Republican Greg Baca amid a wave of attack ads from a political committee run by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s top political adviser.

Attorney General Hector Balderas, a Democrat, praised the new leadership. “I want to congratulate Senators Wirth, Papen and Padilla on their leadership positions in the Senate and I look forward to working with them to make New Mexico a safer and more prosperous place for all of our families,” he said in a statement.

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