JEFFERSON CITY - Democrats nominated Sen. Ken Jacob of Columbia on Thursday to lead the opposition in the Senate, where Democrats will trail Republicans by six seats during the next session.
Democrats lost control of the Senate last year and lost two more Senate seats in Tuesday's elections, dropping the Democrats from 16 to 14 seats.
"This is obviously one of the times where things haven't gone so well," Jacob said after receiving his party's nomination.
But he insisted neither the Democratic message nor the Democratic candidates was to blame. Instead, he blamed his party's inability to raise money and bring voters to the polls.
Some people didn't want to participate in the process, and those who did were confused, Jacob said.
"I'm a professional at this process, and I was confused."
Gov. Bob Holden also disputed any idea that the GOP's overwhelming election wins were a reflection on him or Democratic leadership.
"I don't think it's as much a record on any one governor," he said. "It was really a record and a feeling about what's going on with this national economy."
Holden said he thought voters were sending a message that they were concerned about the economy, jobs and government accountability. He said he shared their worries.
He also insisted he would keep public education and prescription drugs as his top priorities.
He said he was not worried about working with the Republicans' new 90-73 advantage to rule in the House. He said he had called House GOP leader Catherine Hanaway and congratulated her for her victory.
When asked Thursday whether he would seek re-election when his term expires in 2004, Holden only said: "I am not prepared to make a statement today, but I wouldn't discount it at all."
Jacob also said he wants to work with Republicans to achieve a bipartisan agenda.
He praised his party's diversity, having Democrats from urban and rural areas, black and white members, and having perspectives that run the political spectrum.
But he stuck to what he called the Democratic Party's roots, emphasizing better schools, smaller class sizes and better health care.
Senate Republicans voted to keep Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau as president pro tem and added Mike Gibbons of St. Louis County as majority floor leader.
In the House, where Democrats lost 14 seats, Mark Abel of Festus won the nomintion for minority floor leader.
On Wednesday, House Republicans nominated Hanaway of St. Louis County as speaker and Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau to be majority floor leader.
All nominations including that of Jacob, must be approved by the full House or Senate chamber when the legislature convenes in January.