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October 31, 2014

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Leadership battle begins in Assembly after election defeat of Democratic speaker-to-be

With the leader of Assembly Democrats defeated in last night's election, Democratic lawmakers are in a scrum to pick the next Assembly Speaker.

Assembly Democrats will meet tonight at about 5:30 p.m. in Las Vegas to determine a new leader, said Lindsey Jydstrup, executive director of the caucus. The leader of the Assembly is traditionally one of the most powerful positions in state politics.

Democrats picked up an Assembly seat to bring their majority to 27, one vote away from the 2/3rds super-majority needed to pass taxes in Nevada and to override a governor's veto. Republicans now have 15 members.

But Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, in line to be the next speaker, lost to Republican Wes Duncan, a political newcomer.

The favorite to be the next speaker is Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, who chaired the Assembly Judiciary Committee last session. He did not return requests for comment early Wednesday.

Another contender is Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas.

But a divided vote could also lead to a junior member becoming Speaker, as lawmakers may have an eye toward choosing someone able to serve in the position for multiple sessions.

Term limits have created unprecedented turnover in the Assembly. The past two speakers, Barbara Buckley and John Oceguera, have both been forced to leave because of term limits.

Senate Democrats are also scheduled to meet tonight in Las Vegas. Sen. Mo Denis, who headed the caucus' successful campaign efforts to maintain the majority, said late Tuesday night he expected to be chosen as the majority leader. He would be the first Hispanic to head that caucus in modern times.

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