JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- House Democrats selected state Rep. Rick Johnson of High Ridge as the new minority floor leader on Saturday.
Johnson, who had served as minority whip since January, replaces fellow Jefferson County lawmaker Mark Abel of Festus as head of the House Democratic Caucus.
A vocal critic of majority Republicans in the last legislative session, Johnson said he would push to improve funding for education and social programs that took hits in the current budget. As minority leader, he will also play a large role in Democratic efforts to win back control of the House in next year's elections.
Johnson, 34, was first elected to the House in 2000. He is a lawyer. Abel stepped down from his leadership post to focus on his bid for the Democratic nomination as state treasurer.