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Hawaii Senate Republicans nearly extinct

Sam Slom  is now the only Republican in Hawaii's Senate.  (Associated Press)
Sam Slom is now the only Republican in Hawaii's Senate. (Associated Press)

HONOLULU – As the only Republican survivor in Hawaii’s Senate, Sam Slom worries that majority Democrats could ram their proposals into law, sink his legislation or stifle his enthusiastic speeches.

While most of the country experienced a Republican tidal wave on Election Day, Slom is the last GOP stalwart in the Hawaii Senate. There were two Republicans but Sen. Fred Hemmings didn’t seek re-election and a Democrat took his place.

Republicans grew in the 51-member state House, from six to eight, but still left the state with the most one-sided legislature in the country.

“It’s going to be long days and long nights,” said Slom, who represents Diamond Head and Hawaii Kai. “I’m up for the task. Nobody twisted my arm.”

The solitude of being outnumbered 24-1 comes with a few practical realities and difficulties.

Slom is now the party’s minority leader, floor leader and policy leader. He’s a member of all 15 Senate committees, with no way to attend them all.

When he makes a motion on the Senate floor, he’ll have to rely on a Democrat to second it before he can move forward.

“I could make a motion with the right hand and second it with the left hand,” Slom said.

Slom sees himself not just as speaking for his district, but as a representative for all the state’s voters who supported Republican candidates during this month’s elections.

Democrats don’t intend to stand in Slom’s way too much, and they’ll even second his motions, said Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.

“We’re going to work with him,” said Galuteria, D-Downtown Waikiki. “We’re looking toward creating collaborative solutions here. I don’t want to sound naive. I think it’s possible.”

No other legislative body in the country has just one Republican or one Democrat, according to statistics gathered by the National Conference of State Legislatures.


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