|Representative Brad King (Left) was elected to the position of minority leader Monday, his colleague in the state legislature Sen. Mike Dmitrich already holds that title in the state senate.|
It seems only a short time ago that State Senator Mike Dmitrich became the minority leader in the smaller branch of the state legislature. Having him in that position gave his district and particularly Carbon county some real clout in that state body.
On Monday night the county took another step forward in legislative matters when State Representative Brad King was elected by other house members to be the minority leader of the house. He replaces Ralph Becker who recently was elected the new mayor of Salt Lake City.
When asked what it meant, he was humble about the assignment.
"It means a lot of meetings, but probably no more than I was already going to," King said by phone on Tuesday morning after coming out of a Mining Commission meeting. "I am hoping I can have a positive impact on the state and on our party as we move ahead."
While Democrats who hold office for very long in Utah are hard to find in the last 35 years, King has held on a long time to his seat as the representative from District 67. In fact he has been in the job for over 10 years, and it appears that he could hold it much longer unless something happens to change the voting tendencies in his area.
King, who is also the Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Student Services at the College of Eastern Utah, is a Carbon County native, whose father was a professor and the college and whose brother, Mike, is also a vice president at CEU. Being a Democrat from one of the few Democratic strongholds in the state has made him unique in a state where Republicans are the norm.
As the house majority leader, King becomes the de facto face of the state party to the media, to the governor's office and to the majority party in the house. His experience in the leadership of the party will help him in these areas.
"I was the minority whip for three years, the assistant whip for four years and the caucus manager for two years before that so I know what I have gotten myself into," he said. "For the last three years as the whip I have been in charge of the Democratic alternative budget on the hill. Now that will go to the new whip and I will be sitting on the legislative management committee and the executive appropriations committee which oversees the final budget."
The leadership group in the house will now change with King moving up too. His old position of minority whip will be held by David Litvak, the assistant whip will be Carol Spackman Moss and the caucus manager will be Phil Riesen. All represent Salt Lake County districts.
King believes that the vote on Referendum One, where the states citizens rejected the so called voucher bill nearly two to one shows politics in the state are moderating somewhat and he has great hope for the Democratic Party in Utah's future.
"Our priorities this coming session will be on health care and on public education," he said. "I realize we have done a lot for education, but they need more help."
King says what his party needs to do is to get the message out to the people that his party is with them and to prepare good candidates for next years election.
"The people of the state supported turning down Referendum One and it was our stand to defeat it," he said. "They were with us on that."
Since King has been in the legislature his life has been very busy. When asked how this will affect his life he was pragmatic about it.
"Not much more I hope," he said. "I know it will make me more visible and certainly I will have more front seat involvement in policy at both the party level and at the legislature."
The job of any leader is to build consensus. In King's case he must build it within the house itself (with the Republican majority) and with those Democratic representatives that are there too. "The job here is to build consensus and compromise, so we can get things done."