Utah Senate Democrats shake up leadership

SALT LAKE CITY — In closed-door elections, the Utah Senate’s minority caucus has shaken up its leadership.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, has been elevated to Senate Minority Leader in Friday’s election, replacing Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, who served for six years.

Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, was elected Minority Whip and Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, was elected as Assistant Whip. The newly elected Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, was appointed caucus manager.

“We are looking forward to working with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to do the work the people of this state have elected us to do,” Sen. Mayne said in a statement Friday. “Utah faces many challenges, and we owe it to the citizens of this state to come together to find solutions that will ensure a secure and prosperous future for all Utahns.”

Despite being a member of Utah’s minority party, Sen. Mayne is one of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill. She consistently ranks as one of the top bill-passing legislators.

The new Senate Minority leadership is majority women, versus the Senate Majority leadership which is mostly male (Sen. Ann Millner was elected as Assistant Whip on Thursday night). The House Majority leadership is all male. House Minority Caucus elections are later this month.

In previous years, with only five members, the Senate Democrats would shuffle jobs. This year, they added a new member when Kathleen Riebe defeated Sen. Brian Zehnger in the Murray area.