State House Republicans have agreed to organize with Rep. Joseph Souki and a dissident faction, sources say, potentially giving Souki and the dissidents the majority necessary to topple House Speaker Calvin Say.
The seven Republicans would join with at least 21 Democrats to form a coalition of 28 — two more than the 26 needed to control the 51-member House. Say’s faction represents 22 Democrats. One newly elected Democrat remains undecided.
Souki, a former speaker, negotiated the deal with House Minority Leader Aaron Johanson, sources say.
Sources say Republicans could receive the vice chairmanships of three committees — including the House Finance Committee, which could have a Republican and a Democratic vice chairman — under the agreement.
Two years ago, Republicans had sided with Say in a leadership battle with Democrats, giving the speaker the leverage to hold off a challenge.
Dante Carpenter, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, had urged House Democrats in a letter last week not organize with Republicans. He said the net result would create a “super-minority” among the seven Republicans while disenfranchising Democrats on the losing end.