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House Dems pick Campbell, Gallego, Wheeler for leadership

House Dems pick Campbell, Gallego, Wheeler for leadership House Democrats met behind closed doors on Nov. 8 to select their leadership, unanimously deciding to re-elect Rep. Chad Campbell of Phoenix, who ran unopposed for the House minority leader position.

The caucus, which contains 14 first-time lawmakers and 10 returning members, was also unanimous in selecting Rep. Ruben Gallego of Phoenix to serve as the assistant minority leader.

Rep. Bruce Wheeler of Tucson won a secret ballot vote over Rep. Lela Alston to become the minority whip.

Campbell, who was first elected to the minority leader position in 2010, said he will continue to push Democratic causes in the House, and this year he will preside over a larger team of Democrats. The caucus grew in the Nov. 6 election to 24 members from 20, making it a more formidable force in the House.

Campbell said that the Democrats’ expanding numbers will force Republicans will to compromise on issues, especially issues that have divided the moderate and conservative wings of the GOP, such as whether the state should establish its own health care exchange or allow the federal government to set it up.

“We have the health care (exchange) issue, and we’re all going to work on that, and that’s going to have to be a bipartisan issue whether the Republicans like it or not,” Campbell said.

He said Democrats also plan to push transparency issues — as they have tried in past years — and that hopefully with more members comes more success.

Although both he and House Speaker Andy Tobin are returning to their respective leadership positions, Campbell said he hopes things change from past years when House Democrats and Republican haven’t worked together closely and Republicans have largely shut out Democrats from the budget process.

“I want to work with Andy if he wants to work with me,” Campbell said.

“I’ll work with anybody, the governor, anybody down here. I’m not going to play politics at the expense of the state, but at the same time, I’m not going to support a bad deal.”

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