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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina state Senate Democrats will keep their same top leaders for the next two years.

The incoming Senate Democratic Caucus re-elected Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville as minority leader and Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh as minority whip.

Nesbitt has served in the Legislature since the early 1980s. He became majority leader in 2009 when Democrats controlled the Senate and minority leader in 2011 when Republicans took over the chamber. Stein is in his third Senate term.

Democrats will hold just 17 of the 50 seats when the General Assembly reconvenes in a couple of weeks, or two fewer seats than before.

Senate Democrats meeting late last week also picked Sens. Gladys Robinson of Greensboro, Floyd McKissick of Durham and Clark Jenkins of Tarboro as deputy minority leaders.

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