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Senate Democrats select their leaders for the upcoming session

November 4, 2004
By: Josh Hinkle
State Capital Bureau

Democrats in the State Senate pick their leadership for a new legislative session. Josh Hinkle reports from the State Capitol

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Democratic senators met for more than an hour to carefully select Senate minority officers.

The Democrats have a 23-11 disadvantage to the Republicans, but newly elected minority leader Senator Maida Coleman of St. Louis says partisanship won't play a major role in the Senate chamber.

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"We want to work with the Republicans and if they want to work with us, maybe we'll get somewhere. We came here to do the job that those who elected us sent us to do. We did not come to fight or argue."

Coleman beat out soon-to-be senior legislative member Pat Dougherty also of St. Louis for the minority position.

From the state capitol, I'm Josh Hinkle.

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A Senate newcomer secures a minority leadership position. Josh Hinkle reports from the State Capitol.

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Just two days after he was elected to the state Senate, newly elected assistant minority leader Chuck Graham of Columbia is already fielding questions about his predecessor, Senator Ken Jacob.

Jacob was known during his time in the Senate for passionate filbusters, but Graham, who is wheelchair bound, joked that his own future in filibustering might not be as adamant.

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"Like my friend, Ken Jacob, told me last year 'At least your legs won't get tired when you're out there on the floor.' If that's what I gotta do, that's what I gotta do."

Graham won the position unanimously.

From the State Capitol, I'm Josh Hinkle.

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The soon-to-be senior member of the state legislature loses the minority leader position, but his voice in the caucus leadership will still be heard. Josh Hinkle reports from the State Capitol.

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St. Louis Senator Pat Dougherty lost the Senate minority leader position to Senator Maida Coleman, also of St. Louis.

But the 11-member caucus agreed, Dougherty's history as a legislator might be better utilized in the position of caucus chair.

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"I was able to use my skills as a negotiator to get a number of things killed, but quite frank, in the Senate tradition, you stop the debate on the issue and you go to the side and work out your problems and I've got a history of that."

Dougherty joined the legislature in 1978 as a state represenative.

From the State Capitol, I'm Josh Hinkle.