Jared Polis Colorado Governor
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Colorado Senate winners celebrate as State Sen. Leroy Garcia addresses the crowd at the watch party for Colorado Democrats at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver before the polls close. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

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Denver • State legislators chose new leadership at the Capitol on Thursday, with the Senate Democratic majority choosing Sen. Leroy Garcia of Pueblo as its next president and the House Democratic caucus tapping Majority Leader KC Becker as the speaker-designee.

Sen. Steve Fenberg of Boulder, the architect of the Democrats’ sweep of five Senate seats, was elected majority leader. Women swept the table for the rest of the leadership posts. Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora won the nod for assistant majority leader. Sen. Lois Court of Denver was elected president pro tempore, a job that must be voted on by the full Senate; she’ll have to run again for the position Jan. 4, when the 2019 session convenes.

Sen.-elect Faith Winter of Westminster won the nod for caucus chair. Sen. Kerry Donovan was named majority whip.

The Senate Democrats, by virtue of their majority, also earned one more seat on the Joint Budget Committee. Sen. Dominick Moreno of Adams County, who has been on the committee for the past two years, was elected for another term and will become the committee’s chair come January. Sen. Rachel Zenzinger will join him on the panel.

Senate Republicans held their elections at the same time, putting four election-winners into leadership roles. Sen. Chris Holbert, who won re-election Tuesday, will be the minority leader, with Sen. John Cooke of Greeley, who also won Tuesday, as assistant minority leader.

Sen. Vicki Marble of Fort Collins, the Republicans’ lone woman, will be the caucus chair. Newly re-elected Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction will be the whip, and freshman Sen. Dennis Hisey of Fountain will join the Joint Budget Committee.

Rep. Patrick Neville of Franktown will continue as minority leader. The assistant minority leader position, held by Rep. Cole Wist of Centennial, who lost Tuesday, now falls to Rep. Kevin Van Winkle of Highlands Ranch. Rep. Lori Saine of Firestone will continue as caucus chair; Rep. Perry Buck of Greeley will hold the post of minority whip. Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale will be the ranking member on the Joint Budget Committee.

With four races still too close to call, House Democrats postponed their leadership elections until 3 p.m. Thursday.

Becker and now-House Majority Leader Alec Garnett of Denver decided to then move forward with elections, saying it was important to get the work of the House Democrats underway.

Becker will have to run again for the position of speaker-designee Jan. 4, when the 2019 session convenes.

The other leadership posts went to:

Rep. Chris Kennedy of Lakewood, who will serve as assistant majority leader, defeating Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver;

Rep. Edie Hooton of Boulder, who will serve as caucus chair;

Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Denver, who will serve as assistant caucus chair;

Rep. Jeff Bridges of Greenwood Village, who will serve as the other co-whip with Coleman.

Chief legislative reporter

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