Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Finnegan new
House GOP leader

The minority caucus names
a replacement to veteran Galen Fox

Rep. Lynn Finnegan was selected yesterday as the new leader of the 10-member House Republican caucus after longtime Minority Leader Galen Fox stepped down for personal reasons.

"I completed five sessions as minority leader," said Fox (R, Waikiki-Ala Moana). "I don't in my memory know anybody who lasted that long, and I thought it was time to move on to new leadership."

Finnegan (R, Mapunapuna-Foster Village) thanked her predecessor for his past leadership and said she looked forward to serving in the new role.

"In regards to goals for our caucus, that's going to take a little while," Finnegan said. "We need some time to come together as a caucus and determine what direction we want to head in, or if we want to change directions or whatever. We're going through that communication right now."

There were no other changes in GOP leadership.

Finnegan, who was first elected in 2002 and ran unopposed in 2004, was among the more outspoken GOP members this year in floor debates and in committee hearings. During her tenure, she has been a staunch advocate for charter schools and health issues.

Fox praised Finnegan as someone who can bring people together in a cooperative way.

"What you have in a leader is somebody who symbolizes the party to a wider group," Fox said, noting that six of the GOP's 10 House members are women. "I think Lynn will be good for symbolizing where the party wants to go."

Fox has presided over the caucus since its ranks grew to as many as 19 in 2000. But the GOP's membership fell to 15 in 2002 -- the year Republican Gov. Linda Lingle was elected -- and down to 10 in last year's vote, when the party had hoped to gain at least three seats to give it enough votes to block any potential veto overrides by majority Democrats.

Democratic leaders said they looked forward to working with Finnegan.

"We are all colleagues in the House, and we wish Rep. Finnegan all the best," Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho) said in a statement. "At this point, we don't anticipate any major changes in how we would approach a possible special session during the summer or the regular session in 2006 due to a new minority leader."

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