On Saturday, the New Mexico House Republicans elected new leaders of the GOP caucus, propelling three new faces to all of the leadership positions.
In a surprise move, GOP Caucus Leader Jim Townsend (R-Artesia) decided not to seek a third term in the position, although he will still remain a representative in the New Mexico House. The caucus elected Rep. Ryan Lane (R-Aztec) to succeed him in the vacant position.
House Republicans elected Rep. Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) to succeed GOP Whip Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) for the caucus whip position.
Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena) was chosen for the House GOP caucus chair position, succeeding retiring Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Truth or Consequences), who did not run for reelection and will be leaving the chamber. Republicans now hold 25 seats in the 70-member lower chamber, a net pickup of one seat.
Rep. Lane told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “I think Jim thought it was a natural transition and the time to help new leadership come on board, you know, and finish out sort of the work that [Jim Townsend] begun.”
The shocking move by the New Mexico House Republicans comes as Democrats are making significant shakeups in their own caucus, with Speaker Brian Egolf retiring from the chamber at the end of his term and Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo) the favorite to succeed him in the Democrats’ caucus.
The Democrats also selected Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) as the new majority floor leader, succeeding Martinez, and newly elected Reena Szczepanski (D-Santa Fe) as their new majority whip. They also chose Rep. Raymundo Lara (D-Bernalillo) as their new caucus chairman.