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Democrats select party leadership ahead of Republican-dominated 2023 legislative session

Senator Pat Flowers speaks to Democrats at the Capitol after being elected as Senate minority leader, with House and Senate minority whips standing behind him.
Ellis Juhlin
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Montana Sen. Pat Flowers speaks to Democrats at the Capitol after being elected as Senate minority leader, with House and Senate minority whips standing behind him.

Newly elected and returning lawmakers from both parties gathered at the Capitol in Helena Wednesday to elect leaders for the House and Senate.

Democratic legislators elected Pat Flowers from Belgrade as Senate minority leader, and re-elected Kim Abbott from Helena as House minority leader.

House democrats kim abbott.jpg
Ellis Juhlin
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
State Rep. Kim Abbott speaks to Democrats at the Capitol after being re-elected as House minority leader.

Abbott says she remains hopeful there is room to compromise despite Republicans' supermajority, which enables them to add constitutional referendums to the ballot without needing any Democrats’ votes.

"Obviously, the minority's voice is incredibly important," she said. "And we represent well over 300,000 Montanans, and, you know, the responsibility for making sure that 300,000 Montanans have a voice here is really on the Republican Party."

She points to recent election results as an indicator of what Montanans want.

“We saw Montanans, a majority of them stand up and protect the right to privacy. That includes the right to abortion," she said. "And we're going to be in this building every day making sure that we're protecting that right for our constituents."

Uncertified election results show Democrats will hold 16 seats in the state Senate, and 32 seats in the House.

Ellis Juhlin is YPR's Statehouse reporter based in Helena.