Aloha Fellow Republicans and Happy New Year!
I hope you enjoyed a joyous holiday season. Today, in particular, is an important day. The first day of each year should be a reminder of our first cause and purpose and why we continue to fight for a better tomorrow. Reflecting on the election cycle in 2018, I ask all of us “who are we as a party?”
When I was running for state party chair in 2017, I shared the story about how I am the daughter of an immigrant who was raised in the pineapple fields of central Oahu who went on to serve my nation for 24 years. I am an island girl I’ve always strived to live the American Dream. I know all of you have strived for that as well.
This is who I believe we are. Our cause is something much bigger than any one election cycle … and goes far beyond any set of candidates on the ballot … our cause is an organization built on all of us together. I believe we are the party of inspiration, aspiration and the American Dream.
For where the state party had leadership responsibility this election cycle – statewide and federal races – we ended up with a small net gain and reversed a decades-long trend of decline. Before the election, we held no statewide seats, no United States Senate or House seats, no Republican State Senators, and had only five Republican in the House. Following this election, we still hold no statewide seats, no United States Senate or House seats, but we did regain a seat in HD36 (Congratulations to Val Okimoto) and regained a seat in our State Senate with SD 19 (Congratulations to Kurt Fevella). Reversing the trend of decline was something we should be proud of. It’s a start, but we have so much more to accomplish.
WHAT WENT WELL
What went well this election cycle? We finished this cycle with a little money in the bank after investing tens of thousands of dollars in our candidates. We have a very strong organization at the party and we are continuing with our fundraising and strategic plans.
Let me start out by sharing some of our positive strides forward:
- Firstly, we paid off our office space this year! We can be proud that our office suite is now an asset for our party.
- Next, we looked for innovative ways to raise money for the party – which included telemarketing and other prospecting efforts. Through this, we were able to identify 765 new donors who contributed around $61,800 total, a true voice of confidence of our grassroots supporters.
- Two "friendraising" brunches which signed up over 185 new members and volunteers
- Facebook page has almost 2500 new followers since March – total followers 5,000+; page engagement is up 82%!
- Recruited and trained 43 candidates (including those in contested primaries), many of whom finished a rigorous and comprehensive 10 week Candidate Training Course to get them ready to win their races.
- Established a Republican Lawyer Working group to review and recommend action on unconstitutional Hawaii laws
- Young Republican leaders identified while also partnering with Young Americans for Freedom and Young Americans for Liberty. Brought conservative Speaker Hannah Scherlacher out to the University of Hawaii and our Young Republicans sponsored Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk for a talk at the University of Hawaii as well as a “Prove Me Wrong” table at the student union during the homecoming festivities as well as serving as speakers for our Constitution Day Dinner.
- Republican Leadership Initiative Fellows program ongoing! We currently trained 7 RLI fellows active, several of whom will be receiving college credit for their work with us.
- GOTV and the Neighborhood Team Leader effort has started--over 250 Republican grassroots activists trained by RNC trainers and Leadership Institute of Washington DC over the past year
- 75 Party activists trained on data and technology apps on all islands to help the grassroots assist our candidates to win
- Secured the support of RNC to provide full funding for a full-time professional Executive Director and all data tools, totaling $76,000
- Authored and published the new, more conservative, more comprehensive, and more grassroots-driven Hawaii Republican Party Platform (approved by 2018 State Convention)
- Authored and published a 2018 Political Plan (approved by State Committee)
- Authored and published a 2018 Finance Plan (approved by State Committee)
- Created and published the 2018 Budget (approved by State Committee)
- Authored and published “Contract with Hawai’i”, synchronizing campaign message (approved by State Committee)
- Cut/saved $6,000 in operating expenditures to maximize funding for executing our political plan
- Built and met with several key coalitions exactly as outlined in the political plan: Filipino coalition, Native Hawaiian Coalition, Samoan Coalition, Education Choice Coalition, Veterans Coalitions, etc
- Engaged with Office of Elections with substantive primary election irregularities, putting them on notice that we will not continue to be ignored with our findings and observations
- Fleshed out and executing a Victory 2018 plan which included plans for an extensive ground game to help the candidates with a high likelihood of winning
- Hawaii Republican Party has received amazing exposure and positive coverage of Hawaii Republican direction by conservative media nationwide:
- TV Interview with Dana Perino on Fox News
- Article in Washington Times
- Article in Daily Caller
- Article in Weekly Standard
Against our framework developed in 2017, we didn’t do poorly against our five (5) key priorities:
- Grow Republican Party
- Build solid financial foundation
- Strengthen the GOP enterprise through party organization and structure
- Enhance the GOP brand through coalitions, education, and outreach
- Galvanizing precincts, districts and counties to recruit and support candidates
WHAT DIDN’T GO WELL
There were some areas that did not go well this election cycle. These are outlined below:
- Data and platforms. We are still not united and working on one platform as an enterprise. We need to do better in order to take advantage of the system.
- We don’t have a shared messaging approach across our network.
- Ground game. We have never done a good job in accomplishing direct voter contacts in the state. We need to have our counties, districts and precincts directly interacting with our voters to effect real change.
- Changing the culture of a state doesn’t come easy or overnight. It builds through time.
Just because we lost races we didn’t want to lose this year does not mean we burn the house down. We have a good strategic framework in place and the priorities are correct. The larger question is – how can we work together - to truly action on this plan?
For us to make a difference in 2019 and ultimately in 2020, we need to deploy the following four priorities:
- The House, Senate, State Party and Candidates need to work as a unified team with a shared strategic approach, political strategy and fundraising collaboration. What does that tactically mean?
- We need to have a shared data platform
- We need to have fundraising collaboration to stretch our resources further
- We must have a shared messaging strategy
- We need to message more aggressively against the Democrats on policies across the spectrum.
- Offensive approach against everything they do this cycle (state, federal)
- Defensive approach to set the record straight on our position
- We need to start candidate recruitment earlier (as in right now) and we are already moving on this.
- Candidates for statewide and federal races
- Candidates in the Districts throughout the islands
- We need to continue to build up grassroots infrastructure to action these activists to help candidates across the state.
The past year has been challenging for all of us. We all poured our hearts, souls and energy into our party and cause. It’s been heartbreaking to see many wonderful people not win their race and it has been heartbreaking to know that our hard work couldn’t help push all our candidates to victory.
I am still energized and believe in our party and cause – I hope that we can come together strongly to make a difference in the next election and start working as a true, united team.
We truly appreciate your commitment to our party, candidates and values this election cycle and will be working around the clock to make positive transformation to shift the pendulum back in our direction in this year in 2019 & 2020. I hope you can find ways to help us as well.
As always, it’s a true honor to serve alongside all of you,
Shirlene Dela Cruz Santiago Ostrov
Hawaii Republican Party