House Speaker Scott Saiki announced Tuesday that he has “no desire” to take over as lieutenant governor in light of Shan Tsutsui’s sudden decision this week to step down early.
The line of succession started with Senate President Ron Kouchi, who said Monday that he did not want the job. Tsutsui’s last day is Wednesday.
With Saiki also declining, it moves down the list to Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, who is running for Congress.
Update: Chin said in a statement Tuesday evening that he would talk it over with his family and announce his decision Friday.
Speaker Scott Saiki said he has “no desire” to take over as lieutenant governor.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
If Chin passes as well, the next in line would be the finance director. But since Laurel Johnston has not been confirmed by the Senate, she’s ineligible. Johnston has been serving as acting director since Wes Machida retired in December.
That would bring up Rod Becker, the state comptroller. He has been confirmed by the Senate and thus is eligible, but if he declined the job, it would then be offered to the state tax director followed by the director of human resources development.
But neither Linda Chu Takayama, who was just appointed in December to head the Department of Taxation after Maria Zielinski’s resignation, nor Ryker Wada, who is serving as interim director of the Department of Human Resources Development after James Nishimoto’s retirement, have been confirmed in their roles.
Tsutsui announced Monday that he would be stepping down Wednesday to join Strategies 360, a public affairs, strategic communications and research firm.
Saiki, like Kouchi, thanked Tsutsui for his years of public service but declined to take over his role as lieutenant governor, which holds few responsibilities and is mainly just a backup governor. The job pays about $151,000 annually.
“I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Saiki said in a statement. “I have no desire to be the next Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii.”
State Sens. Jill Tokuda, Will Espero and Josh Green along with Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto are running for lieutenant governor in the upcoming election. They’ll compete in the Democratic primary in August.
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