by Andrew Walden
What a difference a year makes.
Buoyed by a hugely successful Presidential Caucus and rallying around Linda Lingle and Charles Djou, over three hundred delegates gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village today for the 2012 Hawaii Republican Party Convention.
Chairing the convention, Rep George Fontaine (R-Kihei) lauded the House minority caucus pointing out, “This year we saw almost every bill we spoke out against die. We don’t control the votes, but we do control the discussion.”
Unity was the message from Fontaine, Lingle, Djou and GOP Chair David Chang. Dozens of legislative candidates stepped forward to contest the 76 House and Senate seats up for election this year. VIDEO: Congressman Charles Djou addresses Hawaii Republicans
Governor Linda Lingle pointed to open Senate seat: "Let's make the most of this once-in-a-quarter-century opportunity. Let's come together to make history like we did years ago when I beat Mazie the first time."
Hawaii’s 37 delegates and alternates to the upcoming Republican National Convention were selected as a result of the March 13 caucus which drew over 10,000 voters. Delegates unanimously reelected Republican National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich who ran unopposed. In the race for National Committeeman, former DBEDT Director Ted Liu was reelected 169 to 137 over former Chair Willes Lee. Delegates voted overwhelmingly to adopt the 2010 LLIFE Platform as the Hawaii GOP 2012 Platform.
Media coverage was positive. Here is a sampling:
KHON: Hawaii Republicans gather for state convention
There is certain demographic that is showing up.
"But the key thing that I'm seeing is a lot of younger people joining our party, they're concern for the future," said David Chang of the Hawaii Republican Party. "They want to have a say on what's going on, they don't believe the country or state is on the right track."
And that demographic could be the deciding factor in these hotly contested races.
KITV: Event showcases candidates; energizes party
KITV VIDEO: New Blood in Hawaii GOP
SA: U.S. Senate hopeful Lingle calls for unity
SA: Lingle calls for unity at state Republican convention
AP: GOP delegates in Hawaii break down as planned
PR: Liu again
HR: Former Hawaii Governor and U.S. Senate Candidate Linda Lingle: More Bipartisanship Needed at Home and In Washington
CB: Hawaii GOP Hopes the Future Is Theirs
In just 177 days, the Hawaii Republican Party will know whether it will finally make real inroads in a state dominated by Democrats, or remain mired in the minority.
On the plus side are brand names like Linda Lingle and Charles Djou for the U.S. Congress and a big slate of candidates for the Hawaii Legislature that includes many who waged efforts in 2010. A younger generation of leaders has emerged, like party chair David Chang, 32, and his fiancée, Beth Fukumoto, 29, who is running for a legislative seat….
Djou had them hanging on his every word as he described his six months with the Army Reserve in Afghanistan.
Djou, "in the heart of Taliban country," lived with seven men in a tent with no running water, no indoor plumbing and no privacy.
Djou, who joined the reserves one month after the 9/11 attacks, said most Americans have not been told of the true nature of the "enemy" — in his view, the Taliban.
Their tactics, according to Djou, include handing grenades to Afghani children and telling them they are firecrackers that must be thrown at American service members. On one occasion, he said, it resulted in two children playing catch before the explosions "ripped their bodies to shreds."…
"Our problems today are not as difficult as facing a Taliban bent on pure evil," he said.
Marcia Klompus…party treasurer, had good news for her colleagues: The GOP had nearly halved their debt to about $69,000 and had enough money to pay the mortgage on their party headquarters on Kapiolani Boulevard…."Wow, what a difference a year makes," she said….
In March, meantime, the party held its first-ever presidential caucus.
"It was hugely successful, and there were many of us who didn't know what this was going to be all about," said Ted Liu. "But the excitement was tangible and amazing. People were standing in line. Pat Saiki stood in line for two hours, and that was a story repeated over and over again."
CB: Lingle: United Hawaii GOP Can Win More Seats
Linda Lingle told her fellow Republicans on Saturday that the chance to elect a new U.S. senator from Hawaii comes around just once every 25 years.
"Let's make the most of this once-in-a-quarter-century opportunity," she said in her keynote address at the Hawaii Republican Party annual convention in Waikiki. "Let's come together to make history like we did years ago when I beat Mazie the first time."…
Lingle, who reminded convention delegates that Hawaii has had only five U.S. senators since statehood and that only one was a Republican, clearly believes that the candidate stressing bipartisanship, collaboration and experience will be the one Hawaii sends to Washington, D.C.
"The problems we face are not Democrat problems, not Republican problems," said Lingle. "They are American problems."
If Americans approved of bickering, she said, Congress would have a 90 percent approval rating instead of just the 9 percent it is today.
"Breaking the gridlock in our nation's capital will require common sense and the ability to compromise and the experience to make tough decisions — the kind of things I had to do as governor," she said….
Lingle heaped praise on David Chang, the party's youthful, passionate chair, and the team he has put together….
Chang reminds Lingle of herself, it seems, the party chair who in 2000 saw the GOP pick up seven new seats in the Hawaii Legislature.
She recalled the sense of "hope and goodwill" that election night, not only among Republicans but also independents and "more than a few Democrats glad there would be more checks and balances in the state Legislature."…
"With a renewed sense of energy and passion and enthusiasm," said Lingle, the GOP can "ensure our message is heard around the state and country on Election Day. The outcome of the election will be what kind of country we will be and what our place in this world will be."
HNN: Hawaii GOP convention rallies around Lingle, Djou
More than 300 delegates gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for the Hawaii Republican Convention….
Lingle also rallied the GOP to make gains in a state where Democrats make up a large majority in the legislature. "It is about having a balance two-party system of government that works in a bipartisan fashion to come up with the best ideas to make Hawaii greater than it already is," she said.
The convention's other keynote speaker was Charles Djou, now running to regain the U.S. House seat he lost to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa two years ago. He told delegates that this election will be a fight against reckless spending in Washington. "That's what we need in our representative delegation in Congress, not somebody who's going to be a rubber stamp and say and do whatever the Democratic leadership does," he said, to applause….
On the state level, the GOP said some 60 candidates have pulled papers to run as Republicans. "Some of the younger, some of the brighter, some of the best that you're going to see in Hawaii are going to be coming under the Republican ticket, so we're very, very excited about it," said Rep. Gene Ward, who was vice chair of the party's candidate recruitment committee.
One of those candidates is Beth Fukumoto, who served as an interim party chair last year. "We have such a low voter turnout, and it's because people don't feel engaged, especially young people," she said. "And I feel that us as the Republican party can engage those people again."
Larry Fenton is running for a seat in the state senate. "Our current politicians, the current Democrats, they don't seem to care about local issues and about what working people's needs are, and so I think we can fill that gap," he said.
"This is the first time I've run as a Republican. And this is also my first Hawaii Republican convention so I'm really excited to be here," he added.
Related: Hawaii Republican Convention This Weekend
Message to Hawaii Republicans from Chairman David Chang May 19, 2012
The Hawaii Republican Party was thrilled with the turnout and inspired by the enthusiasm of our delegates, candidates, volunteers and guests.
Thank you to the over 400 participants who attended the 2012 Hawaii Republican Party State Convention! I am inspired by the commitment of our party members for the continued growth and betterment of our Party.
The convention was filled with many highlights. There were invigorating speeches by Former Governor Linda Lingle and Former Congressman Charles Djou. The delegates overwhelmingly voted to keep the LLIFE Platform intact and we were able to provide a dozen boxes of canned goods for the Hawaii Food Bank. I was also very excited to see the number of candidates who participated in our candidate fair and parade. We are looking forward to their victory this fall!
A hearty congratulations goes out to our newly re-elected National Committeeman and Committeewoman, Ted Liu and Miriam Hellreich. I look forward to working with them to help secure the HRP's future.
The State Convention attracted media representatives from all the major local news sources. The press coverage was a valuable opportunity to share the Party's message and renewed unity and enthusiasm with the public. Click the links below to read what the media is saying about the HRP 2012 convention.
Thanks to support from you, HRP heads into November unified, financially stronger and focused on victory.
David S. Chang