An LDS convert from Nevada appears poised to become the leader of the Democratic party in the U.S. Senate.
Meanwhile, 13 other Church members were re-elected to the U.S. Congress during the nationwide Nov. 2 election. Utahns also chose lifelong member John Huntsman Jr. to serve as governor of the Beehive State.
With the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is expected to be named his party's leader when the 2005 Senate session begins. Sen. Reid who joined the Church while attending Utah State University received the highest-ranking position a Church member has held in Congress when he was appointed Senate majority whip in 2001. When the power in the Senate later shifted to the Republicans, Sen. Reid became the minority whip.
"After a difficult conversation with my close friend Tom Daschle in the early morning hours, I began lining up support to become the Democratic leader," Sen. Reid said in a statement following his election. "I have commitments from a majority of my colleagues who have given me their strong support."
CNN reported Sen. Reid will apparently not face any opposition for the minority leader post after an expected challenge by Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut faded.
"I think Harry Reid is going to be our choice," Sen. Dodd told CNN.
Sen. Reid, 64, said he had also spoken with President George W. Bush following election night. The two men discussed the need for reconciliation following a divisive 2004 election.
An attorney, Sen. Reid retained his Senate seat following a decisive victory over Republican challenger Richard Ziser.
- Sen. Reid's LDS colleague in the Senate, Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was also re-elected in a one-sided race. Latter-day Saint Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, also survived his challenge and will return to Washington D.C..
Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was not up for re-election in 2004. The seasoned senator is expected to step down as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Senate Republican rules limit chairmanships to six years and Sen. Hatch's term has run its course, the Deseret Morning News reported. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon, is also in the middle of his term and was not up for re-election.
- Voters were kind to LDS incumbents serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. All 11 were re-elected, including: Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah; Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah; Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif; Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Rep. James Gibbons, R-Nevada; Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.; Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla; Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif; Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M.; and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
- Governor-elect Huntsman will join Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as leaders of their respective states. Utah's new governor defeated Scott Matheson Jr. in a race noted for its civility. Governor-elect Huntsman will replace incumbent Utah Governor Olene Walker, a Church member who was defeated at her party's convention.
- The Church also continues to have a presence in the Bush administration. Mike Leavitt, a former Republican governor of Utah, was appointed the secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year. Secretary Leavitt is expected to remain with President Bush's second-term administration.
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