SANTA FE — In the uncertain world of politics, there is no doubt about who will become the next speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, is a lock to be elected to the job on Tuesday, opening day of the legislative session.

The Democratic Caucus nominated Martinez for speaker by acclamation. Because Democrats control the House 38-32, Martinez is assured of following in the steps of his late father, Walter Martinez, who was speaker of the House from 1971-78.

Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, said she, like the Democrats, was certain Martinez would be elected speaker.

"I look forward to working with him, and I'm excited by all the other changes this year," said Herrell, who is beginning her second term.

Twenty of the 70 House members are new.

Martinez, 53, will succeed the late Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, who was speaker for 12 years and a House member for 38 years.

Lujan, stricken with lung cancer, did not seek re-election to the House last year. He died in December at age 77.

In the state Senate, two Democrats will compete for president pro tem of their chamber.

Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces said in an interview that she had locked up more than enough votes to defeat Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas.

Papen, 80, has been a senator for 12 years. Campos, 58, a community college president, has been in the Senate for 22 years.

Campos won the nomination for president pro tem at the Democrats' caucus, but Papen said she had moved ahead by securing the votes of all 17 Republican senators, plus at least seven Democrats.


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That would give her a minimum of 24 votes. It takes 22 to win the job in the 42-member Senate.

Either Papen or Campos would succeed Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat, who lost his bid for re-election to the Senate.