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Abercrombie considers at least 2 senators for cabinet posts

By Richard Borreca

LAST UPDATED: 07:09 p.m. HST, Nov 27, 2010

Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie is meeting with advisors this weekend and considering putting two and perhaps three state senators in his cabinet.

According to two sources, Abercrombie is considering Big Island Democratic Sens. Dwight Takamine and Russell Kokubun for positions with his new administration.

Takamine is under consideration as head of the state Labor Department and Kokubun would lead the Department of Agriculture.

There had been early speculation that Sen. Josh Green, also a Big Island Democrat and an emergency room physician, was under consideration for a position as the state director of health.

Green would not comment, saying only that he was proud that his Senate colleagues had selected him as chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

Also mentioned for a possible administrative position is long-time Manoa Democrat Sen. Brian Taniguchi, who, according to one Democratic source, is under consideration to the state Labor Relations Board.

If the senators do accept positions with the Abercrombie administration, they would have to resign from the Senate and Abercrombie would be able to name replacements. Abercrombie already is expected to name a replacement for Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who will leave the state position when she is sworn in to Congress in January.

Kokubun, Takamine and Taniguchi did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Abercrombie said the governor-elect was still interviewing candidates and "any announcement now would be speculation."

Takamine is a labor attorney practicing in Hilo. He was first elected to the state House in 1984 and then elected to the Senate in 2008. He was an active campaigner for Abercrombie during the primary and general election.

Kokubun was appointed to fill a vacancy in the state Senate in 2000 and has served ever since then. He is a former Big Island County councilman.

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