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Friday, November 10, 2000

Legislators discuss
who gets top jobs
in ’01 session

By Richard Borreca

So far just the three-member Senate Republicans are organized; the 22 Senate Democrats, the 32 House Democrats and the 19 House Republicans are all still discussing plans and positions for the upcoming 2001 Legislature.

Democrats are carefully figuring out their strategy because, as Rep. Ed Case said, "the organizational vote is the first vote we take and may be the most important one for the session."

Case, a moderate Democrat, said he thinks many fellow Democrats have to change or risk more losses to Republicans in 2002. With 19 members, the GOP needs to win just seven more seats to take control of the state House.

"The future of the Democratic Party rests on whether the Legislature will embrace or reject change," Case said.

Calvin Say, who wants to remain as House speaker, said he will ask all Democrats to vote on the existing committee chairmanships. "To me, there are no groups or factions. I want to keep the process as open as possible," Say said.

The loss of seven seats to the Republicans was personal to Say, who said he had only expected two or three seats to change.

"We will have to regroup and rethink our role. ... I take it personally because I thought we were doing an excellent job," Say said.

House Democrats will have their first formal caucus next Tuesday, and Say wants his Democrats organized by Thanksgiving.

In the Senate, Democrats have been meeting informally for the past two months, without success.

Senate leaders decline to speak on the record, but say they are not far from organizing to replace Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, who declined to seek re-election this year.

The Senate Republicans have Sen. Sam Slom serving as Republican leader and the newly elected Sens. Fred Hemmings and Bob Hogue as Republican floor leader and Republican policy leader, respectively.

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