Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Lujan Ready To Move House Forward.(New Mexico & The West)

Byline: Loie Fecteau Journal Politics Writer

SANTA FE Rep. Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, knows he has big shoes to fill as he stands poised to replace longtime Speaker Raymond Sanchez as the top leader in the state House of Representatives.

"I'm still a bit overwhelmed," said Lujan, who served as House majority leader the past two years. "This is something I hadn't anticipated. I'm not thrilled in the way I had to get this speakership position. However, the people have spoken and we have to move on."

Lujan was nominated by the House Democratic caucus to be speaker after Sanchez lost his re-election bid in House District 15 in the November general election. Sanchez, an Albuquerque Democrat, had served as speaker for 16 of his 30 years in office, longer than any other New Mexican.

Because Democrats enjoy a 42-28 majority over Republicans in the House, Lujan is expected to be formally elected speaker on the 60-day session's opening day Tuesday.

The 65-year-old Lujan said he is confident he is up to the challenge of taking on the job as speaker, the Legislature's most powerful position. …

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