This probably makes Washington Senator Patty Murray the most powerful member of the Northwest delegation in the next term: She has been named secretary of the Democratic Conference [that is, of the caucus], the fourth-ranking person in Democratic leadership. Incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid's statement was that "As Secretary of the Conference , Senator Murray will play a critical role in helping shape and set the Democratic agenda."
Patty Murray, second from right; Majority Leader Harry Reid on her right
In the last decade, Idaho Senator Larry Craig chaired that caucus' policy committee on the Republican side; that would be the last time someone from the region rose to a similar level in Senate leadership.
The appointment gives Murray considerable clout in the Senate. It also links her tightly to however well the Senate, and the Congress, do in the next few years.