By Derrick DePledge
By voice vote, the state House on Tuesday rejected a resolution by state Rep. Bob McDermott to dissolve the bipartisan House leadership coalition and replace House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson with Rep. Gene Ward.
The resolution would also have replaced Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who supports marriage equality, on the House Judiciary Committee, with Rep. Richard Fale, who opposes gay marriage. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Finance Committee are scheduled to hear a gay marriage bill on Thursday, provided it clears the state Senate on Wednesday as planned.
The resolution would also have stripped Republicans of the three committee vice chairmanships they received as part of the leadership coalition.
McDermott said the coalition of minority Republicans and progressive Democrats behind House Speaker Joseph Souki has been bad for both parties. He also claimed that same-sex marriage split the minority caucus, even though Thielen is the lone Republican to favor the bill.
Thielen said she refused to step down from the Judiciary committee and warned that Republicans will remain on the fringes politically until they move beyond social conservatism.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro and Rep. Jo Jordan, Democrats who lost power under the new House leadersship, were among the Democrats who publicly supported McDermott's unsuccessful play.
The House did approve a resolution to name Rep. Rida Cabanilla the new majority floor leader, replacing Rep. Karen Awana, who resigned earlier this month.
Since House leaders have chosen to assign fellow leaders only to the House Legislative Management Committee, Cabanilla is off the House Judiciary Committee. House Democrats chose Rep. Denny Coffman, who supports marriage equality, to take her place on the committee.
While Cabanilla has been listed as an opponent of gay marriage, she has been counted as a 'yes' vote on the bill in some internal House vote counts because of her new leadership position.