What? You say. We just had those elections Tuesday.
Nope. I’m talking about the leadership elections for the GOP supermajorities in the 75-member House and the 29-member Senate.
Anyone who can tell you who will win these elections (except for a few contests) are nuts.
There are almost always a few surprises, with both Senate presidents and House speakers turned out of office in attempted re-election efforts.
In any case, UtahPolicy breaks down the races like this:
-- We get a new Senate president. President Michael Waddoups retires the end of this year. There is a deadline for filing for a GOP leadership office, noon on Wednesday. No one can stand up in the caucus and ask to be a candidate if he or she hasn’t filed by Wednesday.
-- Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, and Senate Majority Whip Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, are both standing for president.
The race has been pleasantly cordial so far. The 24-member GOP caucus meets at 6 p.m. in the Capitol to take its votes.
Under Senate GOP internal rules, if you run for an office and lose, you can’t run for any other office. The president’s race is voted first, so if Jenkins or Niederhauser loses, he is out of leadership.
With an open majority leader and whip posts, lots of folks lining up.
-- Sens. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem; Curt Bramble, R-Provo; and Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe; are all in the majority leader race.
Unfortunately, Monday night Okerlund suffered a heart attack. He is doing well in a local hospital, but may not be able to attend the Thursday caucus meeting. He has not withdrawn, and still plans to run and to cast his ballots by phone, if need be, said Senate Chief of Staff Ric Cantrell.
If Dayton wins, she’ll be the first GOP woman in that post in recent memory.
Bramble held the post four years ago but was defeated in a re-election bid.
-- The whip candidate is Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton. No one is running against him.
-- Senate Majority Assistant Whip Peter Knudson, R-Brigham City, is running for that post again. He is challenged by Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal.
As per rules, Cantrell counts the secret ballots and is assisted by two former GOP senators, in this case Chris Buttars and Jon Greiner.
It is less likely that there will be a new speaker over the next two years. That 61-member caucus meets at 5 p.m. Thursday for their votes.
-- Current Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, has already announced that she won’t seek the speakership again in 2014, but will retire from the House then.
-- Just last Saturday, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, announced on a local conservative talk show that he will challenge Lockhart. Several other current GOP House leaders toyed with the idea of running against Lockhart – the state’s first female speaker of the state House – but in the end chose to run for re-election to their current leadership posts.
Same internal rules as in the GOP Senate, if you lose a House leadership race you can’t run for another one.
-- House Majority Leader Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, as of Wednesday didn’t have an announced opponent. However, Joe Pyrah, deputy of the House, says that any Republican can announce in the House caucus meeting if he or she is a candidate, run and be voted on.
“I don’t anticipate” any other GOP House member will challenge Dee, said Pyrah. Dee clearly has eyes on the speakership when Lockhart retires.
-- House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, R-Draper, seeks re-election to that post. But Hughes has at least two challengers (and others could announce at the caucus).
Reps. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, and Curt Webb, R-Logan, also seek the whip position.
-- The only open GOP leadership post is assistant whip, Rep. Ronda Rudd Menlove, R-Garland, not running again.
Reps. Don Ipson, R-St. George; Jim Bird, R-West Jordan; and Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden; all seek that post.
Gibson and Wilcox were given important appointed chairmanship posts by Lockhart two years ago, and so in some respects could be considered her supporters.
It was common knowledge that Dee and Hughes were supporting former House Speaker David Clark, R-Santa Clara, in his re-election race against Lockhart, which she won by one vote. And at times there has been some interesting personal interaction between Hughes, Dee and Lockhart over the last two years.
Democratic leadership posts in the House and Senate are all up in the air – but for different reasons.
Democrats, through redistricting and election loses, are down three seats in the House and two in the Senate – making their already small minority status even smaller.
-- The five remaining Senate Democrats are not going to meet for a leadership vote until Sen. Ben McAdams is replaced. McAdams won the Salt Lake County mayor’s race Tuesday and will resign his seat quickly.
There is a really big battle going on over who may be appointed to McAdams’ Democratic-safe, Avenues-based district.
Those interested include state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Debakis and outgoing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon. See UtahPolicy managing editor Bryan Schott’s story on that contest here.
“We have not even scheduled our vote,” said Sen. Pat Jones, D-Cottonwood Heights. “We hope the (McAdams district delegates) will meet soon to pick a replacement for Ben,” she said.
Since there are four members of minority leadership, only one Democratic senator will be out of leadership.
Things are also in flux in the House for the minority party.
-- Assistant Minority Whip Brian King, D-Salt Lake, says both he and Minority Whip Jen Seelig, D-Salt Lake, seek the minority leader job – being vacated by retiring Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake (who is reportedly also interested in the McAdams seat).
Unlike the Republicans’ leadership-selection rules, a Democrat who is defeated in a higher post can drop down and run for another slot.
“I imagine either I or Jen would run” for minority whip “if we don’t win leader,” said King. But, he adds, other Democrats could get into not only the minority leaders’ race, but into the other races as well – assistant whip and caucus manager.
-- King ran off half a dozen names of Democrats who survived Tuesday night’s elections as possible leadership candidates.
“Really, we could have many people interested,” said King.
The House Democrats have at least set their caucus election time – next Monday at 7 p.m. at the Capitol.
Finally, Jones and King said the smaller number of Democrats on Capitol Hill won’t change things much.
“We work well with the Republican majority in the Senate now,” said Jones. “And that will continue.”
King said House Republicans “are smart enough” to realize that it is wise to work with the “super minority” Democrats. “And we have a fine relationship with the speaker and other majority leaders, and their staffs,” said King.
While Jones said she believes the 2013-2014 Senate “will be much more moderate” because of some of the changeover, King doesn’t see the same for the House – at least not yet.
“On paper it may look like some” of the new GOP House members “are more moderate,” King said. But when you go from 58 Republicans to 61, there naturally is a greater chance of having more conservatives in office and more right-wing decision-making, he added.
“We’ll just have to see. I know some are saying” the new House make-up will be more moderate – in part because four of the five original Patrick Henry Caucus members are gone.
“But let’s see how things work out in the next session.”