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Mazie K. Hirono
Sam Slom, party of one in Hawaii's Senate
Sam Slom, party of one in Hawaii's Senate

The clock was ticking and scores of bills hung in the balance, so Hawaii's Republican Senate caucus descended to the Capitol basement and an austere wood-paneled meeting room, sealing the door to plot strategy. Peering from behind silver reading glasses, Minority Leader Sam Slom skimmed a summary of each bill, then rendered a verdict. A housing revenue bond: "That's OK." Funds to boost Hawaii's film industry: "We'll let that one go." Guaranteed overtime for public works: "More cost to the taxpayer," Slom said, flagging the bill for dissent on the Senate floor. The room was filled with a dozen staffers as well as the minority leader, the...