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Baca replacing longtime Senate GOP floor leader Ingle


Last updated 11/21/2020 at 3:03pm

SANTA FE — Sen. Greg Baca will replace longtime New Mexico Senate GOP floor leader Stuart Ingle in the latest shakeup for a chamber that will have new faces in several key posts come January.

Senate Republicans voted during a closed caucus meeting this week to elect Baca, R-Belen, as the new Senate minority leader. Ingle said the body doesn’t disclose vote totals, but noted the vote to elect Baca was close.

Ingle, a Portales farmer, has represented the Senate’s 27th district since 1985 and was first elected Senate GOP leader in 2000. He has worked closely with moderate Democrats on high-profile legislation dealing with pension solvency and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Going forward, Ingle said, “I’m the most senior senator, so I’m sure I’ll be a part of the decision making.”

Baca, an attorney who won re-election this month to a second term in the Senate, said Wednesday he would bring a change of direction to Senate Republicans.

The Legislature has a pair of sessions on the horizon, a special session called for Tuesday and the regular session that begins in January.

“The special session,” Ingle said, “we’re going to use some federal money to help out the unemployment deficiences and help with the closures to businesses. The regular session is 60 days, so anything can be introduced. We’ve got some dollars in reserves, so we’ll see how we spend that.”

Democrats have held a majority in the 42-member chamber since 1988 and will enter the 60-day legislative session in January with a 27-15 advantage after wining one net seat — they actually won three GOP-held seats but lost in two districts currently held by Democrats — in this month’s general election.

“I felt like my skill set was well-suited for the position,” Baca told the Journal.

He said he would work with majority Democrats when possible, but also clearly articulate Republican values in areas of disagreement.

Senate Republicans also elected two other members to leadership posts, with Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho elected minority whip — he had previously held the post on an interim basis — and Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque elected as caucus chairman.

Brandt, a retired pastor who has served in the Senate since 2013, said the new leadership team would “take things in a different direction.”

Specifically, he said the GOP caucus would seek bipartisan solutions while aggressively opposing some Democratic-backed measures.

“I think we will do what we can to slow down the really bad bills,” Brandt said.

Senate Democrats were expected to vote on leadership positions during a caucus meeting on Saturday.

One key post being vacated is that of Senate president pro tem, as Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, who currently holds the position, was defeated in the June primary election.

The full Senate will ultimately vote in January on who will be elevated to that post, which determines committee chairmanships, among other duties.


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