House Minority Caucus Chair Dennis Keene says Democrats will win back House seats in 2018

04/10/2017 05:42 PM

NEWPORT – Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, says that the 2017 session was tough on Democrats who found themselves in the minority in that chamber for the first time in 95 years, but the House Minority Caucus Chair feels that his party will win many of the seats it lost in the last election during the next cycle.

Keene, who has served in the chamber since 2005, admitted that one of the toughest things this session was getting used to the new rules that were instituted when the House came under GOP control.

“We didn’t vet things properly,” Keene said. “As long as I’ve been there we’ve always did what they call three day posting, which now went to one day posting. Well, that’s why you have three day posting so the public can look at things and say hey, did you know this is in there and it’s going to impact my life here?”

Keene felt the first week of the session, where the House and Senate met on a rare Saturday to pass right to work and repeal of prevailing wage legislation was nothing more than a show of power by GOP legislators.

“They were impacting their muscle and it was totally unnecessary but it is what it is, and you just have to move on,” Keene said. “One of the rules they cut down was the debate on the floor. You could only debate an issue for 15 minutes. Whenever you cut off debate, it usually means you’re hiding something and you don’t want the public to see it.”

Keene admits that Democrats lost a lot of House seats because of the popularity of President Donald Trump and straight ticket voting, but he feels that in 2018 the tide will turn in his party’s favor.

“We will get a lot of those seats back because they’ve always been Democrat seats,” Keene said. “The problem was more than just where we as Democrats were it was the Donald Trump factor. As these pendulum swings in politics, you know, it will swing back, and you’ll see us recover some of those seats that we have lost. We’re just going to have to get out there and get the voters engaged.”

Despite political differences, Keene was complimentary of Republic Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover.

“I think Jeff Hoover did a great job,” Keene said. “I think he’s a good man. I’ve always enjoyed working with him in the past when he was minority leader. I always reached out to Jeff and explained to him where I was coming from.”


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