Christine Stuart photo
Majority Leader Denise Merrill (Christine Stuart photo )

Newly elected Majority Leader Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, introduced her seven deputy majority leaders at a press conference Monday.

Merrill’s team includes many lawmakers she’s come to know over her 16 years as a legislator and as co-chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee since 2005.

The line-up includes, Rep. Lewis Esposito, D-West Haven, Rep. Sandy Nafis, D-Newington, Rep. Melissa Olson, D-Norwich, Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor, Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, Rep. Patricia Widlitz, D-Branford, and Rep. Ernie Hewitt, D-New London.

When announcing Rep. Hewitt she mistakenly called him “Ernie Newton” the convicted former senator from Bridgeport. The mistake caused an outburst of laughter before the question and answer session turned serious again.

With the economy and the state’s budget deficit at the top of the agenda next year, “I think one of our jobs will try to make this as efficient as possible,” Merrill said. “In some years we get bogged down with introducing literally thousands of bills, I think it will be different this year.”

“Everything will revolve around the question of the economy, but there are certainly issues that come up year after year that don’t cost money that are policy considerations,” Merrill said optimistic about the upcoming year.

It’s the job of majority leader and deputy majority leader to get the policy the caucus cares about through the legislative process and onto the governor’s desk.

“My priority as majority leader is to ensure that the issues the caucus cares about get accomplished,” Merrill said. 

Merrill said she’ll have a better idea of what those priorities are after Wednesday’s caucus meeting with the 114 Democrats in the House.

Merrill succeeds Rep. Chris Donovan as majority leader. Donovan is expected to be elected as the Speaker of the House in January when the legislature reconvenes.

The Republican caucus has yet to introduce its leadership team.