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DES MOINES -- House Speaker Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, was re-elected to his leadership post Wednesday as House Republicans organized for the 2005 session.

Republicans hold a 51-49 majority over Democrats, down from the 54-46 margin the GOP had before Election Day losses last week.

The chamber is the last bastion of Republican control in the Statehouse, forced to contend with a Senate tied 25-25 between the parties and Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Also re-elected Wednesday was House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp, R-Decorah.

Both Rants and Gipp ran unopposed when House Republicans met Wednesday morning.

"We believe that the House is really the place where the agenda will be driven for the next two years, given the makeup in the Senate, that the House is going to have to step forward probably a little more aggressively than we have in the past to lead," Rants said in a news conference following the vote.

Democrats will hold leadership elections Saturday. Minority Leader Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, could not be reached for comment.

Rants said the Republican agenda is focused on three areas: growing the state economy, improving schools and controlling health-care costs.

Gipp said the specific proposals in those areas are still being determined, with an eye toward finding ideas that can get support from all Republican members and at least a few Democrats.

"I suspect it will cause for a limited agenda, things that we can get agreement on and put over the Senate," he said.

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Rants was elected to the House in 1992 and will be starting his second term as speaker.

Gipp was elected to the House in 1990 and will be starting his second term as majority leader.

House Republicans also elected six assistant majority leaders, including Steve Olson, R-Comanche.

The last time any party held such a narrow majority was in 1992 when Republicans took the House 51-49 after a decade of Democratic control.

Gipp noted that the current, 14-year, run of Republican majorities in the House is the longest run in the history of the chamber.

Dan Gearino can be reached at 515-243-0138.

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