Reps. Matt Heinz and Ed Ableser were still tied after two votes in the House Democrats’ Nov. 4 leadership vote, so the caucus decided to flip a coin to break the stalemate.
Heinz, a second-term Tucson Democrat, won the leadership post after picking tails.
“I believe the whip race in the Seante last cycle (had a coin flip). So apparently it’s something we do regularly,” said Heinz, who was still holding the quarter as he left the House.
Rep. Chad Campbell was elected House minority leader. Campbell was the lone member of the Democrats’ House leadership team to return to the chamber, and was unopposed for the leader position.
Rep. Steve Farley beat Rep. Richard Miranda on the first vote to become assistant House minority leader.
Campbell replaces term-out Rep. David Lujan, while Farley takes the place of Kyrsten Sinema, who was elected to the Senate on Nov. 2.
“We all knew Chad was the guy who was going to move up. And I think we all knew he was a great leader and we’re excited that he’s going to be a great leader the next two years,” said Farley, a Tucson Democrat.
Cambell, Farley and Heinz have a tough, or at least frustrating, job ahead of them.
Unofficial election results show that Republicans appear to have picked up five seats in the House, which would give the party 40 seats in the chamber and a veto-proof majority.
The Phoenix Democrat acknowledged that his party’s effectiveness in the House will depend on Republicans’ willingness to give them a role, something that rarely happened after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer replaced Democrat Janet Napolitano in 2009.
“I’m hoping that the Republicans invite the Democrats in to help craft the budget, help work on some of the issues facing the state,” Campbell said. “But it’s up to the Republicans. It’s their choice. They can go it alone because they control everything, or they can bring us in and try to work in a bipartisan way. It’s all on their shoulders.”
Democratic Rep. Eric Meyer, who led by 790 votes in his undecided House race, attended the caucus. Rep. Nancy Young Wright, who trailed in her reelection bid by 911 votes, was absent.
The House Democrats’ 20-member caucus includes 11 new members, including several who have served in the past or moved over from the Senate. Heinz and Ableser, a Tempe Democrat, said the large number of new faces made it difficult to lobby members for votes in their whip race.
“I think a lot of it is basically on friendships and who people knew. There’s a lot of people I didn’t know who came in new,” Ableser said.