by Andrew Walden
Over 300 boisterous Republican delegates met at the Philippine Community Center in Waipahu for the Hawaii Republican State Convention Saturday, May 21, 2016.
Speakers included House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto and Senator Sam Slom as well as Arizona GOP Chair Robert Graham.
With the race suddenly wide open for CD1, former Rep Charles Djou mingled with delegates and told reporters: “I continue to be deeply concerned about the lack of accountability here in our government. I am not and have not been campaigning for public office, but so many friends and supporters are urging me to take a look, so I’m thinking about it.”
Recovering from bypass surgery, an energized Senator Sam Slom gave a rousing speech which brought delegates to their feet. Slom pointed out that Democrats have had decades to prove that they can improve Hawaii’s cost of living, educational system, roads and economy, “and they haven’t done it.”
Graham described his efforts to build ethnic coalitions with Asian and Spanish immigrant communities in Arizona—one of four “majority-minority” US states. Graham said many immigrants share Republican values and the key was to invite them into the Party and ensure that Republicans are present in immigrant communities.
Most delegates seemed to be united behind presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump who won the March 8 Republican Presidential Caucus with a 43% plurality. One exception came from Fukumoto who challenged Republican dissidents to “use a different tone and sound like we are from Hawaii” arguing that “Hawaii is not Texas, and we are never going to be.” She described meeting with Mililani elementary school students who were relieved to learn she did not support Trump and said she feels some of Trump’s remarks were “racist and sexist.” With that set-up, her impromptu Q&A session with delegates descended quickly into a back and forth with angry Trump supporters urging her to quit the Legislature or switch parties.
The convention reaffirmed the GOP LLIFE Platform and approved several issue resolutions, most notably in opposition to President Obama’s recent demand that the Hawaii DoE to allow males into elementary school girl’s restrooms and locker rooms.
Delegates approved several changes to Party Rules including a reorganization of the Big Island into two "counties" East and West.
Republican Delegates reelected National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich with 196 votes. Delegates cast 88 votes for challenger, Party Treasurer Mary Smart.
The vote for National Committeeman was 190 for Rep Gene Ward, 61 for HD39 Chair Dan DeGracia, and 33 for Senate Dist. 10 candidate Mike Palcic.
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Fukumoto Helps Her Reelection Chances by Loudly Denouncing Trump
Borreca: …In an amazingly self-destructive outburst over the weekend, Hawaii Republicans held their state convention and used it for the public stoning of one of their few successful candidates, GOP House leader Rep. Fukumoto Chang.
Like former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou and former U.S. Rep. Patricia Saiki, Fukumoto Chang is critical of Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, saying he is dividing and not uniting the GOP and is a sexist, racist, right-wing extremist.
This greatly upsets the vocal, conservative wing of the party that is calling for Fukumoto Chang to leave the GOP. While Fukumoto Chang leads the House GOP, she is criticized and not supported by three of the seven House Republicans.
On Saturday, instead of giving a speech, Fukumoto Chang (calculatingly) said she would use her time to take questions from the hostile audience.
(The purpose was to obtain the reaction and the media coverage, thus ensuring that her constituents know she is not for Trump and therefore less likely to punish her in November.)
“Why don’t you go ahead and join your former minority leader and join the Democratic Party,” one convention member shouted.
“I am not trying to change you, but I am trying to change it, I am trying to make room for people who have different opinions,” Fukumoto Chang said as the loud booing started….
Did it work? Read the comments: “Good for her for taking a stand…Don’t blame her, blame Trump…” – “Representative Chang embodies the strength and intellectual diversity of the Republican Party and should be commended for her views.” – “I commend Representative Chang for standing up to Trump’s supporters in her party.” – “Rep. Fukumoto represents us very well here in Mililani. She know we have her back.” – “Rep Chang is courageous to take her stand, and yes, she is a Republican, as much as anybody else in the party.”
Big Q: What’s your reaction to Donald Trump being the presumptive GOP nominee for president?
read … GOP leader’s refusal to back Trump
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Fukumoto: If I needed a reason to leave, they gave me one
SA: …If elections are won by unified political parties with a shared, specific sense of purpose, the Hawaii Republican Party appears poised to extend its long and painful losing streak.
The Hawaii State Republican Convention in Waipahu on Saturday erupted into booing and catcalls when state House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang took the microphone to say some of Donald Trump’s statements are sexist and racist, and she does not want him to become president.
That triggered an uproar among the crowd of nearly 300 delegates, with delegate Michael Palcic from St. Louis Heights standing up to suggest that Fukumoto Chang resign from the party.
Nathan Paikai, the authorized representative of the Trump campaign in Hawaii, stood at another microphone reminding Fukumoto Chang that “we grew the party 50 percent off of this man,” pointing at his Trump campaign hat. “Why would anybody come against him?”
More people lined up at the microphone to challenge Fukumoto Chang, and state party Chairman Fritz Rohlfing finally called for order to try to move on to other issues and speakers. That prompted more booing, and one woman at the microphone snapped, “This is bulls—!”
Fukumoto Chang, who is the second-highest-ranking elected Republican in the state, remarked after the exchange, “If I needed a reason to leave, they gave me one.”
Almost the entire Hawaii Republican Party leadership supported someone other than Trump for president, but Trump supporters drove a huge turnout of 15,672 voters in the party presidential caucuses on March 8 and propelled Trump to victory in Hawaii….
read … Analysis: Trump adds to isle GOP’s woes
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Slom has some advice for the party
Borreca: Slom has some advice for the party.
“A political party is supposed to elect people to office and we have forgotten how to do that; instead we are focusing on the internal divisions,” Slom said, pointing to the fights between the party regulars and the more conservative and outspoken Hawaii Republican Assembly.
“We have seven Republicans in the House and it is a House divided three to four. We need to be much more effective,” Slom said.
Since he was a teenager, Slom has been a Republican; he now explains that “politically I have grown up over the years,” and is less willing to join every battle.
The wedge issues that the GOP either uses or have used against it, from abortion to gay rights, are not that important, Slom said.
“What we have to do is do a better job of connecting to the young; the millennial generation is the largest demographic age group and we have to do a better job of making our case to them,” Slom said….
The political surges by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump spring from a dissatisfied voter base that does not connect with either Democrats or the GOP, said Slom.
“I don’t think the parties get it, especially the Republicans. The party has made a seismic shift and the voters are not going back. … Everyone fears change, but the change has already happened,” said Slom, who envisions GOP voters as becoming more critical of both parties and candidates.
read … Slom hopes Hawaii’s GOP can tap into new generation
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Hawaii Republicans Must Have Elected Leaders to Spare
CB: …it was enlightening to hear the genius plan that Fukumoto Chang’s Republican colleagues put forward, via catcalls and helpfully direct shouts (“Resign,” for instance), at Saturday’s convention meeting. Fukumoto Chang, they forcefully suggested, should follow Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson and change her party affiliation to Democrat, just as he did after the 2014 elections.
Since Fukumoto Chang succeeded Johanson as minority leader, that would not only maintain a party leadership trend, it would reduce the House GOP caucus to a more manageable size of six. That ought to be plenty to ensure that Hawaii’s Republicans are sufficiently represented in the House. After all, Slom is a caucus of one in the Senate and a veritable model of efficiency.
Leaner (and no doubt meaner), the Hawaii GOP will be well positioned to begin the winning that Trump promises is in its near future — winning so much they’ll be sick of all the darned winning! Once party ideological purity tests have been administered and all the RINOs swept from the room, the path to victory will be wide and thankfully clear…
read … Spare
May 15, 2016: Hawaii Republicans–Political Kingmakers?
May 24, 2016: Hawaii GOP Chair Comments on Party Convention
KITV: Hawaii Republication Convention
HNN: Hawaii's Republicans rally at annual convention
CB: Hawaii Republicans Unite Behind Donald Trump, But Not Unanimously
KHON: Local Republicans speak out on Takai announcement, Trump as possible presidential nominee
May 3, 2015: Hawaii Republican Convention Meets, Elects New Party Leaders