by Andrew Walden
Hundreds of Hawaii Republicans will meet Saturday and Sunday at the Kauai Beach Resort for the GOP state convention. But the top of the agenda—selecting new Party leadership--is a foregone conclusion. With the deadline for registration past, no candidate has stepped forward to challenge Hawaii Republicans’ popular incumbent State Chair, Jonah Ka`auwai.
After a morning of rousing political speeches with appearances from Gov. Linda Lingle and Rep Charles Djou, Republicans Saturday will be voting on a series of resolutions on issues such as Honolulu Rail, marriage, freedom of religion, mainland prisons, and victims’ rights.
Convention delegates will also vote on a key rules change will reorganize the GOP Presidential Caucus system for 2012 and beyond. Republicans are being asked to approve a Presidential caucus on the second Tuesday in March with a proportional allocation of Presidential Convention delegates. This will keep the Hawaii GOP up to date with changes in the national Republican rules mandating primaries and caucuses be held after March 1. Proponents of the rule change point to the caucuses as an opportunity to involve rank and file Republicans in the Presidential selection process—potentially bringing thousands of new members into the GOP.
Another proposed rules change would put the GOP on record demanding a modified-closed GOP primary for State, Congressional, and Senate races. This would put Republicans on record demanding an end to Hawaii’s current “pick-a-party” primary system. Hawaii Democrat conventions in 2006, 2008 and 2010 have approved resolutions calling for a fully closed Democratic Primary. In order to allow the Parties to choose these types of primaries, the State would have to conduct party-line voter registration. Based on the turnout for McCain in 2008, supporters of the move say that party line voter registration would add at least 120,000 new members to the GOP.
Elections for Chair and Vice-Chairs will be Saturday. Ka`auwai will be running for reelection unopposed along with a slate of Vice Chairs including:
- House Minority Leader Rep. Gene Ward for Vice-Chair for Candidate Recruitment
- Beth Fukumoto for Vice Chair of Coordinated Campaigns
- Liz Dorn for Vice-Chair of Communications
- David Chang for Vice Chair of Coalitions
- Lisa Collucio for Vice Chair of Community Services
On Sunday, Hawaii College Republicans are hosting a breakfast fundraiser. Convention planners have scheduled a series of workshops on campaign strategy and precinct organization.