Democrats in the state House of Representatives on Friday elected Rep. Rick Miera of Albuquerque as their floor leader.
They also dropped Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton as their whip, instead choosing Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas for that job.
Miera, 61, right, needed four ballots to win election as floor leader, the No. 2 position in the House.
He faced competition from two fellow representatives from Albuquerque — Miguel Garcia and Gail Chasey — as well as Rep. Debbie Rodella of Espanola.
After Garcia and Chasey dropped out one by one, Miera defeated Rodella.
Democrats control the House 38-32. That means at least 20 votes were needed to win leadership positions.
Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants, the current floor leader, was the Democrats’ choice by acclamation for speaker of the House.
That position is decided by the full House of Representatives. But Democrats control the chamber 38-32, so Martinez is a virtual lock to become speaker in January.
In the race for whip, Democrats elected Maestas, right, in a head-to-head contest with Stapleton.
Stapleton, 55, had been the whip since 2004, and her defeat was a stinging one.
A year ago to the day of the caucus election, Stapleton made an angry outburst at the Capitol in which she insulted a Republican representative and Gov. Susana Martinez. Now Stapleton is out of the Democrats’ leadership tier.
Maestas, a 44-year-old attorney from Albuquerque, said he was excited to be part of the Democrats’ leadership team.
“Representative Martinez is going to do a fantastic job as speaker,” Maestas said.
Maestas said Martinez asserted himself after the sitting speaker, Ben Lujan, announced in January that he was sick with late-stage lung cancer. Martinez quietly took on difficult work, such as seeing through redistricting, Maestas said.
Maestas also said Miera was an inspired choice.
“Rick Miera is a leader on education issues and a leader in general. He is an outstanding pick as well,” Maestas said.
Of himself, Maestas said: "I am humbled that my fellow Democratic lawmakers have confidence in me to articulate the values of the Democratic Party on the House floor."
For the last leadership position, Democrats retained Rep. Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup as their caucus chair.