State Rep. Joseph Souki has a 23 to 21 advantage over Speaker Calvin Say among Democrats in their House leadership fight.
Rep. John Mizuno, who had been in Say’s camp, has joined Souki and his coalition of dissidents and Republicans. Mizuno would be vice speaker if Souki takes power.
Newly-elected Rep. Takashi Ohno said Monday that he, too, is cooperating with Souki. Ohno had been undecided.
Souki, the dissidents, and the Republicans have 30 votes, four more than the 26 necessary to control the House. Most significantly, however, Souki has the edge over Say among Democrats.
“I am pleased that Representative John Mizuno has agreed to serve as the House vice speaker. He has been a strong leader in his community for decades and has a successful record of working for the needs of Hawaii’s people,” Souki said in a statement.
Say said that he was disappointed that Mizuno had left but predicted others in his faction would hold, forcing Souki to follow through on his pledge to organize with Republicans when the session opens in January. “We’ll stay together,” he said.
Souki, of Maui, also announced on Monday that Maui Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran would be majority leader if Souki becomes speaker. Keith-Agaran is the House Judiciary Committee chairman, the most influential post for a dissident under Say.