But another Democrat could still make a run on the Senate floor
UPDATEDState Sen. Pete Campos was the choice of fellow Democrats on Sunday evening in the competition for Senate president pro tem.
But another Democrat still could win the job in a floor vote next month that would involve both Republican and Democrat senators.
Campos, 59, of Las Vegas, has been a senator since 1991. He is a former school superintendent in Las Vegas and now is president of Luna Community College, also located in his hometown.
Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, was another candidate for the presidency. He said he hoped that all Senate Democrats now would support Campos.
Democrats control the Senate 25-17. They can freeze out Republicans if at least 22 of them unite behind Campos when the president pro tem is elected on the floor of the Senate at the start of the legislative session.
But if another Democrat can pick up a few Democratic votes, he or she could still win the presidency with the help of Republican senators. That happened in 2008.
Morales said vote totals of the contenders for Senate president were not released, even to the candidates.
Sens. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces and Linda Lopez of Albuquerque also ran against Campos and Morales on Sunday.
Sen. Carlos Cisneros of Questa, once a contender for the job, threw his support to Campos.
The president pro tem is key in deciding assignments for Senate committees.
Democrats splintered four years ago when selecting a president pro tem, leading to division within their party.
Democrat Tim Jennings became president pro tem, but he did so with a bloc of Republican votes and those of some Democrats. Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said this weakened the Democrats and prevented them from having a cohesive agenda on legislation.
Wirth is among those who want Democrats alone to control the decision of who is president pro tem.
Two Democrat leadership positions in the Senate were decided Sunday.
Democrats chose Sen. Timothy Keller of Albuquerque as their whip and Sen.-elect Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque as their caucus chairman. Candelaria, a 25-year-old freshman, is the youngest of the 42 state senators.