Colorado Senate Democrats selected state Sen. Robert Rodriguez Friday as their new majority leader.
Rodriguez, who represents the largely south Denver District 32, will replace former Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, of Commerce City. Moreno left his Senate seat a year before his term was up to join new Denver Mayor Mike Johnston’s administration.
Rodriguez will help steer the chamber during the 2024 legislative session and set priorities for the majority. Democrats occupy 23 of the 35 seats in the chamber, just one vote shy of a supermajority.
Democrats hold an outright supermajority in the state House of Representatives, and Gov. Jared Polis is also a Democrat. But that Democratic trifecta has split at times, including over a high-profile land use bill during this year’s legislative session.
Heading into an election year, Rodriguez said he’d keep two views in his new role: Working to keep the caucus moving and organized, while also voting for his district and his beliefs. The caucus is relatively green after Democrats expanded their majorities in the 2022 elections, and it includes a member who joined the chamber just last week. A vacancy committee selected former House member Dafna Michaelson Jenet to fill the Senate seat formerly held by Moreno.
“I’ve always tried to build consensus, whether it’s in my policy or in the positions that I’ve had,” Rodriguez told reporters after the vote. “Obviously, (the priority) for me as majority leader is how the caucus approaches everything. My vote is usually going to be for my district and my constituents, but what the caucus wants is my priority for the caucus.”
The majority leader effectively operates as Senate Democrats’ No. 2 leader, since the caucus has the votes to elect the Senate president. Sen. Steve Fenberg serves in that role.
State Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, of Arvada, also ran for majority leader. Democrats used anonymous ballots and did not release the vote tally.
Rodriguez previously served as assistant majority leader. He was nominated by Sen. James Coleman, also of Denver, who cited Rodriguez’s hard work, consensus-building and a trust that he’d treat bills objectively.
“In the times that I’ve worked with Sen. Rodriguez, he has made sure that everyone was at the table and that we did our best to find a solution that worked for everybody — but in the end, ultimately, embodies our values as the Democratic Party,” Coleman said.
Rodriguez was first elected to the state senate in 2018 and re-elected in 2022.
State Sen. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat who seconded Rodriguez’s nomination, was elected to assistant majority leader.
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