The Senate has elected Democrat Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces as its top-ranking leader, making her the first woman in more than 70 years to serve as president pro tem.
Papen won Tuesday with the unanimous support of majority Democrats, who rallied behind her rather than pushing ahead with a potentially divisive contest between Papen and Democrat Pete Campos.
She was elected shortly after the Legislature convened.
Democrats had nominated Campos for the leadership job last month during a closed-door caucus. However, Papen mounted a challenge and had the backing of a coalition of Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats hold a 25-17 majority in the Senate.
The Senate president plays a key role in deciding committee assignments, including chairmanships.
Carrizozo Democrat Louise Holland Coe was president pro tem in 1935-40.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.