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August 31, 2015

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Majority leader ends Democratic caucus rebellion

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Assemblymen William Horne, left, and Marcus Conklin talk before an Assembly meeting on the third day of the 2011 legislative session Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, in Carson City.

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Marilyn Kirkpatrick

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Debbie Smith

Ending an internal caucus rebellion that sought to upend how the caucus picked its leader and came to be evidence No. 1 of the turmoil caused by term limits, Assembly Democrats picked their majority leader to chair their caucus tonight.

Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, was picked by his members in a contested vote. The caucus then unanimously affirmed him as winner, said Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas and chairman of judiciary, had openly campaigned for the spot, which is seen as a likely prelude to who will be the speaker of the Assembly, one of the most powerful positions in the state.

Smith said she pulled out of the race for caucus chair because she “wanted to focus on keeping the caucus together.”

“The caucus is fully behind Marcus,” Smith said in an interview. One source said that Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, had taken herself out of the running earlier this month.

Traditionally, the leadership of the Assembly Democratic caucus, which has over the past decade been the largest caucus, has been pro forma. Since Richard Perkins succeeded Joe Dini, the majority leaders have filled the shoes of departing speakers.

But term limits created a freshman class in 2011 that felt left out of key decisions. Even before the 2011 session ended in June, there was uncertainty.

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