Some Democrats have tactfully taken to revising state Sen. Ed Murray's (D-43, Seattle) new title from majority leader to caucus leader.
Democrats unanimously elected Murray as leader last week. Traditionally the leader of the majority party is the senate majority leader. However, with the Democrats' numerical advantage currently looking like it'll be 26-23 rather than 27-22, they could lose the buffer against the two conservatives in their caucus, state Sens. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlach) and Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue).
On votes where Sheldon and Tom (both of whom joined last session's Republican budget coup) go with the GOP, the Republicans would have a 25-24 advantage.
Tom and Sheldon told the Tacoma News Tribune they want to force a power sharing agreement this year where committee chairs and perhaps even the senate leader are decided in a floor vote.
Murray sent a letter to the Republicans yesterday, which he signed "Senate Majority Leader," looking for clarity.
Here's Murray's letter.
November 20, 2012
Dear Senate Republican Caucus Members,
The Senate Democratic Caucus stands ready to work with your leadership team, and the entire Republican caucus, to fulfill the Senate's constitutional responsibility along with the Governor and the House to govern. Our own caucus has elected me as their leader and we are in the process of electing the rest of our leadership team and completing our committee recommendations. We will gladly share it with you after our caucus approves it.
In the recent past, our respective caucuses have set new standards of bipartisan cooperation. We remain committed to working with Senate Republicans in a manner that will reflect the priorities and values of our state. We are committed to finding a path forward and to working collaboratively, regardless of changes that create or dissolve majorities now or in the future.
Once you have completed your reorganizational process, which we understand to be scheduled for Nov. 28, we request Republican leadership meet with Senate Democratic leadership to negotiate a clear administrative process going forward and to fulfill your shared responsibility to govern. Our goal is to recognize the fluid nature of the Senate at present and to govern accordingly.
I personally look forward to working with you and the citizens of our state as we work for the best interests of Washington.
Edward B. Murray
Senate Majority Leader