OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Their numbers thinned by the recent election, Democrats on Thursday nominated state Rep. Larry Adair of Stilwell to be the next speaker of the Oklahoma House.
Adair, 54, was chosen to succeed Rep. Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, who is winding up his second term.
At a caucus Thursday, Democrats also nominated Terry Matlock of Garvin as speaker pro tempore.
Democrats lost eight seats in Tuesday's general election, but retained a majority with 53 members, compared with 48 Republicans.
``I'm pleased to report that we're still the majority party,'' Adair told his colleagues. ``I am pleased to report that we're going to accept the challenge of leading this great state in the next two years.
Adair said he was ``scared to death'' when he came to the Legislature 18 years ago, but considered being entrusted with the responsibility of representing his constituents as ``the high point in my life.''
Now, he said he is excited about leading the 101-member body. ``I think we're at a point in our history that we're going to do some great things for the state of Oklahoma.''
The formal election of the speaker will occur Jan. 5 during a one-day organizational meeting of the Legislature ahead of the start of the session in February.
Rep. Terry Matlock, D-Garvin, was nominated at Thursday's caucus as the next speaker pro tempore, a post that has been held by Adair.
Rep. David Braddock, D-Altus, was chosen to be caucus chairman.
Adair was born in Prairie Grove, Ark., and raised on a farm at Oak Grove east of Stilwell. He graduated from Stilwell High School and Northeastern State University at Tahlequah.
The speaker designate is a former school teacher, principal and school superintendent and consultant to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Ozarks Electric Cooperative.
He was in the Army and is a Vietnam veteran.
Newly elected Democratic and Republican House members will be sworn into office on Nov. 21.