Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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Keith-Agaran tosses his hat in the ring for Tsutsui's seat

By B.J. Reyes


Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, who is in line to become the House majority leader in the next Legislature, plans to seek the state Senate seat made vacant by the promotion of former Senate President Shan Tsutsui to lieutenant governor.

Keith-Agaran (D, Kahului-Wailuku-Puunene) said he submitted his application materials around noon Monday.

The Maui County Democratic Party has set a deadline of Thursday for applicants wishing to fill the vacancy in District 5 (Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului). Applicants must be party members in good standing, live within the district and must submit application materials directly to the party.

The Senate district covers the House districts of Keith-Agaran and Rep. Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku), who said last week he would not seek the Senate vacancy.

Souki is in line to become House speaker under a coalition of dissident Democrats — those opposed to Speaker Calvin Say — and the chamber's eight Republicans. Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki) has agreed to step down as speaker and has backed Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-Poamoho) as the new speaker.

Keith-Agaran already has been announced as majority leader under Souki's leadership, meaning Souki would lose a key supporter if he is elected speaker on Opening Day.

Tsutsui, as Senate president, was next in line to become lieutenant governor following the appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to U.S. Senator. Schatz filled the vacancy left by the death of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye.

By law, Gov. Neil Abercrombie must appoint a replacement for Tsutsui's seat from a list of three names provided by a committee of Maui Democrats representing the vacant district.

About 30 Maui Democratic Party officials from the two House districts plan to meet Saturday to hear from the applicants and finalize the list of three nominees.

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