January 3rd, 2013

Former Gov. George Ariyoshi is the latest prominent Democrat to appeal to state House Democrats not to organize with Republicans.

In a Dec. 27 letter to House Democrats, Ariyoshi, who served for 16 years in the state Legislature before becoming lieutenant governor and eventually governor, described Rep. Joseph Souki’s coalition of 26 Democrats and seven Republicans as “terrible.” Rep. Marcus Oshiro’s faction has 18 Democrats who had previously been loyal to House Speaker Calvin Say.

The former governor suggests that majority Democrats get together without Souki or Say and choose their new leadership.

From Ariyoshi:

I have difficulty writing this letter, and do so reluctantly because this coalition frustrates the desires of Hawaii’s people who gave Democrats a huge majority in the House.

This coalition is terrible because a group of Democrats got together with a group of Republicans, to the exclusion of many Democrats. With such an organization, how is the business of the House going to be conducted?

The coalition Democrats do not have enough votes to pass any measures. Are they expecting Republican votes to be with them? What is the price to be paid for such Republican votes? Is it modification of any measure to suit their needs, to receive their support?

Consider the problems faced at the National level — the conflict and differences of basic values between the President — Democrats and Republicans. It demonstrates that there is a real difference between Republicans and Democrats.

The Souki coalition technically has a majority among Democrats — at 26 — but could temporarily lose a vote if Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran is appointed to fill the Senate vacancy created by former Senate President Shan Tsutsui’s ascent to lieutenant governor.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged from a private talk on Dec. 20 between Oshiro and Rep. Sylvia Luke, a leading dissident, over Oshiro’s proposal to end the leadership dispute among Democrats.

Oshiro outlined his offer to Luke, which she had rejected, in a subsequent letter:

(1) I shall step down as a candidate for Speaker;

(2) All 18 members of the Oshiro Faction shall vote for you as Speaker;

(3) In exchange for the Oshiro Faction’s 18 votes for you as Speaker, the Luke Faction shall end the “coalition” with the Republicans and not support any Republican for a committee chair or vice-chair position;

(4) In exchange for the Oshiro Faction’s 18 votes for you as Speaker, the Luke Faction shall agree to the Oshiro Faction slotting one of its members as Chair of the House Committee on Finance;

(5) The slotting of majority leadership, committee chair (other than Finance Committee Chair as specified above), and committee vice-chair positions shall be made mutually by you and me only from among Democrats, and we shall endeavor, in good faith, that all members of the Luke and Oshiro Factions shall vote for the Democrats slotted for majority leadership, committee chair, and committee vice-chair positions, even those who are not part of either the Luke or Oshiro Faction;

(6) Neither Calvin Say or I shall be slotted for or accept any majority leadership, committee chair, or vice chair position; and

(7) Finally, the Democrats shall hold a caucus before any public announcement of the House organization that will be proposed on opening day.

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