Senate Republicans unanimously selected Bob Huff as the successor to outgoing leader Bob Dutton in a closed-door meeting following today's legislative session.
Huff said he expects"pretty much a continuum" of the caucus' current leadership style and policies, citing job creation and keeping Democrats from picking up the seats they need to secure a two-thirds majority in next year's election as top priorities.
"I expect this to be more of a baton handed off," he said of the transition.
While Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats are planning to use their majority-vote power to pass a budget plan and go directly to the ballot with a tax hike instead of negotiating with Republicans for revenue solutions, Huff said he hopes to be engaged in the process.
"The voters have given the Democrats the ability to craft a majority vote budget, to the degree they want to do that, they can," he said. "I think they're missing the boat. I think the more that voters see the Legislature working in a bipartisan way, the more they'll be receptive to ideas that end up on the ballot box."
Huff, who served as vice chair of the Senate Budget Committee, had been jockeying earlier this year with the more conservative Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, for the support of GOP colleagues. The Diamond Bar Republican secured the support of a majority of his 14 colleagues over the legislative recess, and Anderson nominated him today for the post.
Dutton, who is wrapping up his final year in the Senate and running for an Inland Empire Assembly seat, had announced late last month that he would pass the torch early this year. He issued a statement congratulating Huff after the vote, repeating earlier commitments to ensuring a "smooth and orderly transition."
Huff said he expected the transition -- including an office swap -- to be completed by Monday. He announced several expected changes in GOP leadership, including tapping Sen. Tom Harman for the caucus' No. 2 leadership post and Dutton as vice chair of the Senate Rules Committee.
Sen. Bill Emmerson, who was involved in last year's budget negotiations as a member of the "GOP 5," is expected to replace Huff as vice-chair of the Senate Budget Committee. All committee assignments will require sign-off from the Senate Rules Committee.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 4:20 p.m.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sens. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, talk during the 2012 session in Sacramento, Jan. 4, 2012, before Huff was selected as the new Senate GOP leader.