Rep. Brian King Elected Minority Leader (Video)

House Democrats selected Rep. Brian King as their new leader for the next two years Wednesday night.

The Democrats delayed their elections by two weeks because a number of races were extremely close, and that proved to be a prudent decision as three contests that were thought to be wins for the Democrats unexpectedly fliped to GOP control on Tuesday. That turned a perceived 1-seat gain into a two seat loss for the minority party, dropping their numbers to 12 for the upcoming legislative session.

King says the unexpected loss of those three seats was a bit of a shock.

"This is a bit of a wakeup call as to what we need to do as Democrats to let people in the state of Utah know what our values are," said King. "Our values are their values."


King says it's clear there's a lot of work ahead of them to get that message out, especially now that their numbers are so thin.

"One of the things we will do is work together as a team along with the other members of the caucus to come up with a plan. We will also work with the state Democratic Party and the county parties. It's very much a team effort."

The caucus also elected Rebecca Chavez-Houck to serve as Minority Whip and Joel Briscoe as Assistant Minority Whip. Patrice Arent rounds out the minority leadership team as Caucus Manager.

Looking ahead to the session, Chavez-Houck says she's certain they'll be able to address a number of issues that are important to Democrats because they all have a great relationship with incoming House Speaker Greg Hughes and the rest of the Majority leadership team.

"Having worked on various committees with them together, having worked with them on legislation is advantageous," said Chavez-Houck. "They've been our colleagues for a long time, and that is helpful."

With just a dozen Democrats compared to the 63 Republicans in the House, it means the minority party will be streched thin when it comes to committee assignments, especially appropriations committees. Briscoe says that's a reality they will have to face head-on.

"Everyone has to pull their weight, and we will," he said. "Everyone in the caucus will work hard, but there will be some committees where we only have one Democrat. We are going to have to wait a couple of eyars to put more on there, but in the meantime we have to work."

Arent is no stranger to working with depleted numbers during her time in the Senate. 

"You just need to be prepared to work hard and collaborate with people in the other body, but it can be done," she said.

King echoed that sentiment, saying they had no choice put to play the hand voters dealt them on election day.

"We have to do the best we have with the resources we have. If it means we work together a little harder, that's what we do."