With a growing number of legislators supporting his bid for speaker of the Hawaii House, Maui state Rep. Joe Souki has announced two leadership appointments.
Souki said that he had 30 votes in his favor as of Monday - four more than the minimum needed from the 51-member chamber to defeat longtime House Speaker Calvin Say.
Souki named John Mizuno - who represents Kalihi Valley, Kamehameha Heights and parts of lower Kalihi on Oahu - vice speaker of the House. Mizuno last session served as chairman of the House Human Services Committee.
Souki also named Maui legislator Gil Keith-Agaran House majority leader. Keith-Agaran - who represents Kahului, Puunene and portions of Wailuku - had been chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Souki acknowledged the speakership won't be confirmed until lawmakers vote on it Jan. 16, the opening day of the 2013 Legislature.
"Politics being what it is, nothing is a done deal until the third Wednesday in January, when we open the session," he said. "As of this point, it looks very positive for my group. We hope to have as many people join us as possible."
Souki's supporters include all seven Republicans in the House and a dissident faction of Democrats opposed to Say's leadership.
Say, who has held the speakership the last 13 years, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lawmakers have said privately that Say has not given up yet.
In return for their support, House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson, will be given vice chairmanships of three key House committees: Energy and Environmental Protection, Economic Development, and a newly created co-vice-chair position on the powerful Finance Committee that Johanson would hold.
Souki said appointments of committee chairs and members will be forthcoming.
"Committee chairs will be coming a little bit later, but we wanted to get this announcement of the leadership team out," Souki said. "I look forward to working with Mr. Mizuno and Mr. Keith-Agaran."
Souki said in a statement that Mizuno "has been a strong leader in his community for decades and has a successful record of working for the needs of Hawaii's people."
Mizuno said he is "ready to step up to meet the challenges this position poses."
Souki called Keith-Agaran "an incredibly hard-working legislator," capable of directing efforts to improve communities statewide.
"I'm looking forward to working with all the members of the House on behalf of the people of Hawaii," Keith-Agaran said. He added that as majority leader, he would not be serving as chair of any committee.
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.