AUGUSTA — Now a minority in Maine’s House of Representatives for the first time in three decades, Democrats today chose their key state budget negotiator as their floor leader for the upcoming two-year session, while promising to return in two years as a majority once again.

For minority leader, the Democrats chose Rep. Emily Cain of Orono over Reps. Seth Berry of Bowdoinham and Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth. Cain served for the last two years as Appropriations Committee’s House chair, while Berry served as in the No. 2 floor position as majority whip. Dill, a lawyer, has served two House terms.

As head of Appropriations, Cain played a key role in difficult budget deliberations involving both parties, experience she said put her in a unique position the lead a caucus that has not been relegated to minority status since the 1973-74 session.

Even though she’s barred by Maine’s term limits from seeking a fifth consecutive term in 2012, Cain pledged to recruit Democratic legislative candidates who can help restore her party’s control of the House, she said.

“Today is not an end, just a moment in the process,” said Cain, who urged caucus members to view themselves “not as a new minority but as an emerging majority.”

In the race for assistant leader or whip, Democrats had to go to a second ballot to pick Rep. Teresa Hayes of Buckfield over veteran Rep. Sharon Treat of Hallowell. Rep. Michael Carey of Lewiston was also a candidate.

Asked to address the caucus after her win, Hayes didn’t waste words: “Let’s get to it.”

Following the Nov. 2 elections and one Democratic defection to the GOP, Republicans control the House 78-72, with one independent member.

The Republicans have already selected their leaders for the new session, picking Rep. Robert Nutting of Oakland as their nominee for speaker. He is expected to be formally elected speaker after the newly elected lawmakers are sworn in on Dec. 1.

Amid a GOP sweep that bolstered GOP control in statehouses across the country, Republicans also won a 20-14 majority in the Maine Senate, where one independent was also elected.