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Members elected to prominent roles

Recent national elections were kind to several Church members — including a convert likely to be the Democrat's majority leader in the U.S. Senate, and an LDS Republican lawmaker selected to be the next governor of Nevada.

Following the Democratic shift to power in the Senate, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is expected to be named his party's majority leader when the 2007 Senate session begins. Sen. Reid's ascension to majority leader represents the highest ranking office a Church member has held in the U.S. Congress. For the past two years, Sen. Reid, 66, has been the Senate minority leader and previously served as the minority whip.

An attorney, Sen. Reid joined the Church while a student at Utah State University.

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. James Gibbons, a congressman from Nevada, will become the next governor of the Silver State after defeating his Democrat opponent, Dina Titus. Rep. Gibbons will be one of two LDS governors when he begins serving next year, joining Utah Governor John Huntsman Jr.

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a lifelong member, did not seek re-election.

• Sen. Reid will be joined at the upcoming Senate session by several familiar LDS colleagues.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, easily survived his sixth Senate campaign during the recent election. The Brigham Young University graduate was first elected in 1976 and has served as the chairman of the Senate's Judiciary Committee.

Three other LDS senators — Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah; Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon — are in the middle of their respective terms and were not up for re-election. • Nevada's Dean Heller is the only Church member who will begin his freshman term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007. A Republican, Rep.-elect Heller defeated Jill Derby in the Nov. 7 ballot.

Ten other LDS congressmen held on to their House seats, including: Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah; Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa; Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah; Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif.; Rep. Jeff Flake, R- Ariz.; Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.; Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah; Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif.; Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; and Rep. Thomas Udall, D-N.M.

• Meanwhile, Church member and former Utah governor Mike Leavitt is expected to remain in the Bush administration, serving as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Associated Press was the source used to determine the religious affiliation of the elected leaders noted above.

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