Utah House Democrats have elected a king to lead them, but not that kind of king.

With House Minority Leader Ralph Becker elected Salt Lake City mayor a week ago, Rep. Brad King, D-Price, current minority whip, was picked late Monday by House Democrats to be their new minority leader.

King, a vice president at the College of Eastern Utah in Price, first was elected to the House in 1996 and has been in House minority leadership in one position or another for years.

Becker has yet to resign his seat but is expected to do that sometime soon. He takes his mayoral office the first of the year.

In a slight shift to the left, the 20 House Democrats will have Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake, as the minority whip, replacing King. Litvack had been the caucus manager. One of the more articulate progressives in the House, Litvack made a name for himself when he convinced enough House Republicans to pass his hate crime bill several years ago, only to have the measure called back and killed later.

The Democratic caucus members kept Rep. Carol Spackman Moss as assistant minority whip, and they picked Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Holladay, to replace Litvack as caucus manager. Riesen, a former local TV anchorman, now a pitchman for a furniture store, was the voice behind several Democratic radio and TV ads the past several years, including Becker's mayoral ads.

King is considered a moderate-to-conservative Democrat. He is the only House Democrat elected from off of the Wasatch Front.

Becker in recent years has criticized House Republicans more than King has done, but that may be because Becker was the leader, and King was looked to to take more accommodating stands with the two-thirds, and powerful, House majority.


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