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Utah Legislature: Same captains, different crews

Published: Saturday, Nov. 11 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

John Valentine, R-Orem, Senate president

Republican legislators will have the same captains supervising different crews for the next two years.

Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, and House Speaker Greg Curtis, R- Sandy, were both elected to second terms in their respective positions Friday night. Valentine defeated Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, while Curtis ran unopposed.

Both leaders will have different leadership teams, however, and in some cases the differences could be stark. The only Republican legislator who retained his current position was Majority Whip Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful.

The Democrats have essentially their same leadership teams as Senate Minority Leader Mike Dmitrich, D-Price, and House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, both won. Other Senate Democratic leaders are Minority Whip Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake; Assistant Whip Ed Mayne, D-West Valley; and Caucus Manager Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake. In the House, it will be Minority Whip Brad King, D-Price; Assistant Whip Carol Spackman Moss, D-Salt Lake; and Caucus Manager David Litvack, D-Salt Lake.

New Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo, has earned a reputation as hard-nosed and aggressive during his six years in the Senate. In winning the post, he defeated current Majority Leader Pete Knudsen, R-Brigham City, who presented, at least publicly, a softer and more conciliatory nature.

While he refused to comment on the style differences, Bramble said it's important for the Senate to establish its agenda early.

"We need to have a clear vision, objective and goals that we can communicate to the public," he said.

The new Senate leadership team is equally split between Utah County and Davis County legislators as Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, is the Assistant Majority Whip. Valentine dismissed any concerns about a Wasatch Front focus for leadership, saying that "geography is not as important in the Senate as a body with more members."

House Republicans, however, elected a team lacking anybody from Utah or Davis counties. Instead, they chose Rep. Dave Clark, R-Santa Clara, as their new majority leader; Rep. Gordon Snow, R-Roosevelt, as their majority whip, and Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, as their assistant majority whip.

Curtis said that many of the caucus members actually heard the results of the Senate elections just as they started voting for their own leaders and may have decided to avoid giving too much power to Utah County legislators.

"For anything to happen effectively in the Legislature, you have to have the Senate and House in concurrence," he said. "Utah County is well represented in the Senate, so that may have had an impact" on the House elections.

While the Senate may have a more aggressive leadership team, Clark said that he wants to have a more "statesmanlike" approach. By collaborating with all factions of the almost unwieldy Republican caucus, he thinks that super majority can be a very important tool.

"There is some strengths in the House," he said. "We have a broader experience ... when you mix all of the different fabrics, we become stronger."

Cooperation is also something Becker hopes to use, especially with moderate Republicans who support major points of the Democratic agenda, such as education and social services. During the 2006 general session, the Democratic caucus helped build support for removing the sales tax off of food and increased education funding, even with less than one-third of the votes.

"Last year, we made some progress in building coalitions," he said. "We want to continue to do that."




E-mail: jloftin@desnews.com

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