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House Speaker: Taotasi Archie Soliai vs Savali Ale

The battle for the Speaker of the House post is now heating up as Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai has been confirmed a candidate and he will be up against long time lawmaker and current Speaker Savali Talavou Ale, who was first elected to the House in 1981 and has remained undefeated in every election since then.

This will be Taotasi’s second try for the leadership post.  He was defeated in an 11-9 vote over Savali, after new members of the 32nd Legislature were sworn into office on Jan. 3, 2011.  Taotasi was first elected to the House during the 2006 general election and has remained in the House since then, representing one of the two Ituau county seats.

Two supporters of Taotasi said over the last two days that a meeting of supporters was held Monday this week and Taotasi had asked to be given another chance to run for the Speakership post although at least one other veteran lawmaker was interested as well.

In the end, the group agreed to give Taotasi another chance. It’s believed that Savali and Taotasi each have nine firm supporters and both sides are hotly campaigning to get two more supporters, who are newly elected House members from this year’s general election.

Based on information received by Samoa News, Taotasi’s supporters are seven incumbents and two newly elected members. Additionally, another group, led by another incumbent, wanted to put up their own candidate but later decided to join Taotasi’s supporters.

Of the 21 House members, only the 20 elected House members can vote for the Speakership. The 21st member of the House is the Swains Delegate, who cannot vote on the House floor but can vote in committee.  A candidate for Speaker must have 11 votes in order to win.

Between now and the morning of Jan. 3, 2013 there will be some very strong campaigning by both sides to secure the 11 faipule necessary to win.

And even if one candidate has a so called “solid” 11 supporters, the candidate and his supporters will continue to work on keeping all 11 in line up to the time that lawmakers take the oath of office.