Is the Hawaii GOP dead?
by PBSBUFAN, Daily Kos, April 30, 2017
Let’s investigate. Is the Hawaii GOP dead? With only 5 state representatives in the House of Representatives and no other representation other than a few non-partisan seats in municipal government the Hawaiian GOP has gone from a growing phoenix coming from the ashes back to ineptitude. Will it die? I don’t think so. Will it remain where it is now for the next 3 years? Probably. Let’s look at where the GOP could make inroads and solidify itself.
First off the GOP in Hawaii did manage to offset its previous Presidential loss in 2012. It went from losing the state by 42% in 2012 with President Obama at the top of the ballot to losing it by 32%. One would then think that would translate to the HI GOP maintaining at least what it had already controlled in the legislature and federal level right? Nope. It lost its one seat in the State Senate and one of Hawaii’s most conservative-leaning seats by Hawaii standards in an upset.
What seats could be in play for the GOP in 2018?
HI-SD-23 — As we all know Hawaii is the first state in many years to have one of its legislative chambers be in control by entirely one party. That may change in 2018 as the HIGOP has the chance to make amends and re-target the most “Republican-leaning” state senate seat in the state. The seat is currently held by State Senator Gil Riviere, a former Republican-turned-Democrat who defeated the conservative Republican State Representative Richard Fale (R) for the seat in 2014. The GOP has a shot to take the seat if they could get a good candidate like Former Representative Colleen Meyer (R) to run again or someone of that caliber. The PVI of this seat is D+7.
HI-HD-31 — This seat is held by former House Minority Leader Aaron Johnson (D). When he was a Republican Johnson would win this seat by huge margins. Now that he is a Democrat he is doing the same. However, the Republicans in Hawaii remember that Johnson switched and would like to gain back a seat that by Hawaii standards is not too Democratic. The seat has a PVI of D+15 is the most Democratic on this list of seats to possibly target.
HI-HD-36 — This seat is held by former House Minority Leader Fukumoto (I). See a trend? The seat is very competitive for Republicans, currently Fukumoto is trying to gain entry into the Democratic Party. However, if she is rejected the seat would become a 3-way race, with Fukumoto still having the advantage of being an incumbent with 6 years of experience. Republicans could benefit from a two or three-way race here. This district voted for Clinton 58-35%, closer than the state voted as a whole and has a PVI of D+13.
HI-HD-41 — This seat is held by State Representative Joe Matt LoPresti (D). He has held this seat for two terms and has had two close calls by Hawaii election standards. In 2014, he won 49-36-16 (%’s rounded up) against a Republican and a Libertarian and then won again in 2016 60-40%. His seat is winnable for the GOP compared to most others. If there were a seat the GOP would be targeting besides HI-HD-47 it would be this one. The PVI of this district is D+9.
HI-HD-42 — State Representative Sharon Har (D) has held down this seat since 2006. She has defeated opponents in 2008-2014 by huge margins while running unopposed in her initial election in 2006 (primary and general) and in 2016. The problem for Representative Har is that her district is one of the few that has trended rightward from 2006-2016. The State GOP has probably taken notice and may field a serious contender in 2018. The district PVI is D+8.
HI-HD-47 — The seat is currently held by State Rep. Sean Quinlan, he defeated incumbent State Rep Feki Pouha by a 50.8-49.2% margin in 2016 as the HI GOP’s one state house seat it lost in the House of Representatives. Rep. Pouha could try and gain this seat back for the GOP or another candidate could. It is by far the most “conservative” of all the state legislative seats in Hawaii, it voted for Clinton 48%-40% and could very likely go back to the HI GOP if the GOP were to concentrate on picking the seat back up with a better candidate. The PVI of this district is D+2.
The Democrats are likely to remain at the seats that they have for a long time, they might gain Rep. Theilen’s seat once she retires. Beyond that most other state house seats have enough cross-voters to continue voting in the Republican representatives that they have. It also looks as if some Democratic held districts such as HD-42 and 47 are trending closer to the GOP, with HD-47 nearly having enough to have a Republican PVI. I predict the HIGOP picks up a seat in 2018, I don’t know whether it will be in Senate due to voters wanting different parties within the Senate at all times or if the GOP could take back HD-36 or HD-47 with a lower turnout midterm electorate but I feel that is likely what is to happen when a party reaches rock-bottom.
The Hawaii GOP is not dead, but it is close to it. It won’t die and go the way of the VI GOP due to the nature of Hawaii as a state, but it will need to change in order to grow and become somewhat relevant in this era in Hawaii politics.
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