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Democrats In Arizona Legislature Pick Leaders For New Term

Ross D. Franklin | Associated Press

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature chose new leaders Tuesday for the two-year term that starts in January.

Rebecca Rios was unanimously chosen to lead members of the minority party in the Senate. She represents a Phoenix district and joined the Senate in 2019 after previously leading Democrats in the House and serving in both chambers beginning in the mid-1990s with a break.

Sen. Lupe Contreras was chosen as the Democrats’ assistant minority leader.

The vote in the House was more divisive after Rep. Charlene Fernandez bowed out as minority leader on Saturday following an election that saw Democrats’ high hopes to gain control of the Legislature for the first time in decade fall flat.

Chosen to lead House Democrats as minority leader was Rep. Reginald Bolding. He represents the Laveen area and has been in the House since winning his first election in 2014.

Rep. Jennifer Longdon was chosen as assistant minority leader. She’s entering her second term in the House and represents parts of central Phoenix.

The Legislature’s Republicans chose their leaders last week, reelecting Sen. Karen Fann for another two-year stint as Senate president and Rep. Rusty Bowers to lead his caucus and the chamber’s business as House speaker.

Democrats were hoping to win a majority of the 60-member House in last week’s election for the first time since the mid-1960s but apparently failed to do so despite millions in spending targeting Republicans. With vote counts ongoing and the outcome of some races still uncertain, it appears likely House Republicans will retain their 31-29 majority.

Democrats appear to have gained one seat in the west Phoenix suburbs but also lost one seat to Republicans in Fernandez’s own district, which runs from the southwest Phoenix suburbs to Yuma.