SANTA FE — Republicans in the state Legislature will have a new leadership slate for the upcoming legislative session — as will Democrats — after selecting representatives. Aztec’s Ryan Lane as Republican floor leader.
Ryan, 40, succeeds outgoing House Minority Leader James Townsend, who has held the post for four years and is not seeking re-election.
The leadership transition comes after Republicans failed to achieve the results they had hoped for in the general election.
Democrats retained their 45 seats in the House of Representatives, while Republicans gained a district held by a conservative-leaning independent, bringing their total to 25, according to unofficial results.
However, the results of the two House races were so close that an automatic recount would be triggered.
Lane, a lawyer who owns an ice cream parlor with his wife, said he and the Republican caucus would vigorously advocate for conservative principles, explaining their benefits, he said, rather than simply painting each other as “bad guys.”
Their advocacy will show “why you should vote for this and not why you shouldn’t vote for that,” Lane said Sunday. “I think this is something the entire Republican Party needs to do better.”
Democrats will also have new leadership. Earlier this month, they picked Javier Martinez of Albuquerque as their nominee for Speaker of the House, among other changes.
Outgoing Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, is not seeking re-election this year and will leave the Legislature.
Lane said he has a good working relationship with Martinez.
“Both sides are brand new rosters,” Ryan said. “I think we have a unique opportunity to set a new tone for the House.”
He said he sees room for bipartisan agreement on crime legislation, revised high school graduation requirements and other bills, while Republicans promote “fundamental conservative principles — free markets, limited government, strong educational choices for families .”
The Republican caucus also picked two other leaders at a closed-door meeting on Saturday — Jason Harper of Rio Rancho as minority whip and Gail Armstrong of Magdalena as caucus chair .
Whips help shape legislative strategy, count votes and build support for party bills. Harper, a research engineer, was the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which he led in 2015-16 when the Republicans had a majority.
He succeeded Rod Montoya of Farmington as whip.
Armstrong, as caucus chairman, will preside over internal meetings of the House Republican caucus. She succeeds Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences, who ran unsuccessfully for governor.
This is Ryan’s first term in the House, and he won an election for the first time in 2020.
The legislature will begin its 60-day session on Jan. 1. 17.