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Colorado House Republicans chose state Rep. Rose Pugliese, a freshman lawmaker from Colorado Springs, as their new minority leader Thursday, a day after Rep. Mike Lynch stepped down following news of a 2022 drunken driving arrest.
Pugliese, a former Mesa County commissioner in Grand Junction, had been serving as assistant minority leader.
“It’s really important to me that we have a strong caucus, get out of the super minority, and restore balance to the state,” she told her colleagues. “The power of the unity of this caucus, which we saw on Friday, is real. I believe in it.”
Last Friday, Republicans stood together in the House against a resolution commemorating the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
Pugliese beat out Rep. Matt Soper of Delta and Rep. Ken DeGraaf of Colorado Springs for the job during two rounds of voting. DeGraaf got the lowest votes in the first round, and Pugliese earned 11 of 19 votes in the second round.
Lynch resigned from his leadership position on Wednesday morning amid attempts from members of his caucus to vote him out. On Monday, Lynch survived a vote of no confidence on a 9-9 vote, but members pushed for another vote.
The Wellington Republican was arrested in September 2022 on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of a firearm while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months of probation and 150 hours of community service.
Pugliese now heads a 19-member minority caucus that is split between conservative and moderate factions and has little power in the House to stop many Democratic priorities.
“We’re all different and diverse and unique,” she said. “But we bring talents to this caucus and perspectives that help make us stronger.”
Pugliese was first elected to the House in 2022. She is running for reelection this year.
The caucus plans to select a new assistant minority leader on Friday.
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