Capitol Gains

October, 2004

Brian Schatz and Scott K. Saiki, representatives, Hawaii House of Representatives

Despite vastly different leadership styles, House representatives Scott Saiki (the behind-the-scenes man) and Brian Schatz (the media darling) have managed to attain similar degrees of success this past session. As House Majority Leader, Saiki effectively shepherded a joint legislative agenda focusing on school reform, ice and prescription drugs. Meanwhile Schatz, chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development, managed to block efforts to scale back the state’s controversial tax incentive Act 221, making the tech community the only group to land major tax breaks this year.

These young Democrats aren’t just single-session marvels. They’re often touted as the vanguard of a new generation of political leaders. “We in the Senate look at guys like Scott and Brian as a core of new leadership coming in to replenish the leadership in the House,” says Sen. Brian Taniguchi. “They’re relatively young, yet they’re experienced, so they’re able to work well with both the new people and the more senior legislators.”

Moreover, says power broker Colbert Matsumoto: “[Their] generation is not as bound by tradition as their predecessors. They are clearly more willing to challenge established institutional structures and relationships.” Barring reelection losses this year, we can expect to see them doing just that in another full-court press next session.

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