Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, is the only Republican in the 25-member state Senate. But Democrats want him to feel the love.
Senate President Shan Tsutsui asked Slom to serve as vice chair of the Senate Economic Development and Housing Committee.
That might sound insignificant. But this is the first time in about two decades that a Republican has been allowed to serve as a chair or vice chair of a committee.
In the early 1990s, Republican Senators Mary George and Stan Koki supported Senator Richard Wong in his bid to become Senate president, and when he was successful, Wong kept his promise and named them both chairs.
Though both Democrats and Republicans said the bipartisan effort worked out, no Senate president since Wong has allowed a Republican to serve as chairman or vice chairman of a committee.
Slom, a consulting economist, advocate for small businesses and contributor to Hawaii Reporter, will serve as the vice chair of the Economic Development and Housing Committee as well as serve on the Senate’s 16 other committees.
As the “lone ranger,” Slom must organize his staff so that even if several committees are meeting simultaneously, he has them covered. Despite being a caucus of one, he has among the best attendance records in the Senate, and has only missed one floor session day in 16 years – the day his then father-in-law died.
“I thank both Senate President Shan Tsutsui, and Committee Chair Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, for their offer of bi-partian leadership and for their confidence in the sole Minority Senator,” said Slom, who also serves as president of business advocacy group, Smart Business Hawaii, and heads Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Education Foundation.