10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Inland state Sen. Bob Dutton said Wednesday that he has the unanimous support of his Republican colleagues to become the next Senate minority leader.

Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, would become the second straight Inland lawmaker to head the Senate GOP, replacing Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta.

It’s unclear when the switch would take place. A formal caucus vote has not been scheduled. It would likely come after an agreement on next year’s budget, Dutton said.

“He’s still our leader,” Dutton said of Hollingsworth. “He’ll be calling the shots and I’ll still be budget vice chair and we’ll be moving forward toward the greater good.”

In a statement, Hollingsworth was noncommittal on the timing of a change.

“I am happy that Sen. Dutton appears to have the support of the caucus to be the next leader. With that in mind, we will hold an election and provide for a smooth transition later this year,” Hollingsworth said.

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