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.
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.
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