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Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Fukumoto Quits GOP: ‘Seeking Membership in Democratic Party’
By News Release @ 5:10 PM :: 7418 Views :: Democratic Party, Republican Party

Unwanted Fukumoto to be Rejected by Democrats?

CSM: …But in a profoundly ethnically diverse state that turned deep blue during the Obama years, Hawaiian Democrats are wary of Republicans seeking to join their ranks.

That might mean her past votes against same-sex marriage bills, for instance – which she says reflected the will of her constituents rather than her own beliefs – could force her to make a go of it as an independent, rather than a Democrat….

AP: Hawaii Democratic Party leader Tim Vandeveer says some Democrats are wary of accepting Fukumoto because of her votes on civil (gay) rights and women's issues.

read … Unwanted

Fukumoto: This is the Peak of My Political Career

TO: …from District 36. Out of the 477 who wrote, called, or emailed, 123 said she should leave, 220 said they didn’t care, 111 said she should stay, and 19 said she should stay but they would still support her if she switched. In other words, 75 percent of her constituents were okay with her leaving.

Fukumoto’s acceptance by the Democrats isn’t certain. She must request membership and answer for her socially conservative record, which includes voting no on same-sex marriage in 2013. She will also be transitioning from a prominent position in a small caucus to a rank-and-file position in a very crowded one. She had been planning to run for higher office as a Republican, but as a Democrat, she will have to line up behind more senior members. “This could be the peak of my political career,” she said….

read … Downhill

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Fukumoto? Some Democrats Urge Rep Marilyn Lee to Get Out of the Way

CB: …top Democrats welcomed Fukumoto’s party change.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui said in a statement, “It’s clear that this was a decision she did not come by lightly, and that she believes this decision is not only best for her, but also in the best interest of her constituents.”

He added, “Going forward, I believe that Representative Fukumoto will continue to ably serve her constituents and the State of Hawaii with great respect and independent thinking.”

Meantime, two state senators whose districts include the Mililani area, issued a joint statement welcoming Fukumoto and urging the Democratic Party to allow her in the tent.

“We applaud her efforts to reach out to her constituents who reside in both parts of Mililani that we represent, and understand that she wants to do whatever she can to carry out her legislative work in the best interests of our community’s residents,” said Sens. Michelle Kidani and Donovan Dela Cruz. “We agree that as a member of the majority party, Representative Fukumoto will better be able to work more effectively on a legislative agenda that meets real needs with available resources and that is supportive of Hawaii’s people.” ….

read … Will Marilyn Lee Step Aside?

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Rep. Beth Fukumoto's Media Statement & Resignation Letter from the Republican Party

News Release from Office of Rep Fukumoto, March 22, 2017

HONOLULU, HI – March 22, 2017 – After nearly two months of receiving constituent feedback and personal reflection, I am announcing today that I am resigning from the Republican Party and seeking membership in the Democratic Party.

When I joined the Republican Party eight years ago, I did so with a group of people my age who were full of hope, ideas and energy. We saw an opportunity to take a political party that was broken, in a political system that seemed rigged, and even the playing field.  To us, Democrats represented the status quo, and what we knew was that the status quo was allowing the place that we called home to become so expensive that it was no longer affordable to local families. It seemed like the Democrats in control weren’t concerned with Hawaii’s high cost of living, growing income inequality, our lack of high-wage jobs or our housing crisis.

After serving at the State Capitol, I discovered that it wasn’t just me and my Republican friends trying to change the status quo. There were good Democrats trying to change things too. So we started working together. But, in doing so, I ran into Republican partisanship that insisted I stop working with Democrats even when it clearly benefitted our community.

The issues that I’ve had with the Republican Party are well-documented and to reiterate them now would be adding fuel to a fire that doesn’t need to keep burning. It’s enough to say that my friends and I were wrong to think that a failing party could be changed just because we had the will to change it. In the process of trying to make a party that spoke about issues that our communities cared about in a way that Hawaii’s voters wanted to listen to, my friends and I uncovered louder and more powerful voices that fought divergence, difference and diversity at every step. This election, those voices won.

I’ve served at every level of the Hawaii Republican Party from envelope stuffer to party chair. And, I’ve worked for Republicans in the Legislature as their file clerk and their Minority Leader. I believe that when you pick a team leaving that team should be a last resort even when you doubt whether you should've ever been on that team in the first place. I did everything I could think of to fight for a better Republican Party. I even spoke out against the President.

In the coming days, I will be talking to Democrats in my district and in the larger Democratic Party as I seek membership in their organization.  Ultimately, it will be up to Democrats to decide if they want to accept me or not, but I want to assure my constituents that I will continue to uphold the convictions I have always demonstrated, regardless of my political affiliation.

In serving my district at the Legislature, I’ve found significant common ground with my Democratic colleagues. Enough common ground that I believe that we can fit comfortably in the same tent. For me, I think the Democratic Party of Hawaii allows enough diversity of opinion that the values and ideas that I’ve always held can find a home there. Democrats that want to change the status quo in Hawaii are still fighting to do it, and I want to help them.

PDF:  Rep. Fukumoto’s Resignation Letter to the Republican Party

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Republican Party loses moderate leader, dooms Party with its narrow focus

News Release from Rep Cynthia Thielen, March 22, 2017

With the coup-like ousting of Republican Minority House Leader Beth Fukumoto by three-and-a-half members of its then-six representatives, the tiny party’s brand is further weakened and its relevance to the wider, diverse constituency looks bleak.

The GOP is reduced to five elected Republican officials in Hawaii, all in the House of Representatives because none were elected into the Senate. Fukumoto, a Generation Y woman, and Representative Cynthia Thielen, who joined the party in 1951, operated from the premise of teamwork, mutual respect with Democratic colleagues, inclusion and unification – as did the original GOP.

The GOP Platform of 1956 clearly states in reference to Republican President Dwight Eisenhower: “In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. In all those things which deal with people’s money, economy or form of government, be conservative.” Also in that platform of 60-plus years ago is GOP Senator Barry Goldwater’s support for gays in the military.

“True Republican leaders don’t promote a morphed, narrow version of the original Republican Party as fundamentalists or practitioners of a me-first attitude and a my-way-or-the-highway mentality,” Thielen said. “I am saddened and dismayed when there are power struggles by self-serving politicians and when the greater good of my party – as it was originally founded – is sacrificed by a few modern-day evangelists.”

Thielen vows to remain with the GOP and fight for a moderate party. After her recent speech defending Fukumoto and upholding the genuine Republican Party was carried by global news sources, Thielen received bipartisan support, gratitude and encouragement from thousands of people worldwide.

Meanwhile, Fukumoto will continue advocating for equality and social justice. “Astute leaders and I recognize the hope, inspiration and humanity that is in Beth’s makeup. As a State servant, she fights for the equality of all, choosing not to use her publicly funded position to parcel out rights discriminately,” Thielen said.

Thielen, who has held public office longer than anyone in Hawaii’s current GOP and defeated her right-wing Republican-primary opponent by a landslide in the last two elections, was honored to mentor fellow moderate Fukumoto. Both women’s success resulted from wisely built relationships and finding common ground with colleagues and kamaaina of all parties.

Representatives Gene Ward, Bob McDermott and Andria Tupola led the vote of 3 to 2 to replace Fukumoto with Tupola on February 1 – 11 days after she and Thielen participated in the worldwide Women’s March for equality and human rights. Rep Lauren Matsumoto chose not to vote.

###

HAWAII STATE GOP CHAIR'S STATEMENT ON REP. BETH FUKUMOTO'S RESIGNATION FROM THE HAWAII REPUBLICAN PARTY

News Release from Hawaii Republican Party

HONOLULU (March 22, 2017) - GOP State Chair Fritz Rohlfing released the following statement regarding the resignation of District 36 State House Rep. Beth Fukumoto from the Hawaii Republican Party:

"Rep. Fukumoto's decision to abandon the Hawaii Republican Party is unfortunate."

"We are a thriving and inclusive Party. Our deep commitment to national security and economic growth will only help the citizens of Hawaii during the coming years."

"I am extremely proud of how our Party welcomes and fosters voices from every background and I look forward to electing more Republicans in Hawaii as we move forward."

"Rep. Fukumoto was elected as a Republican just over 4 months ago by the voters in her Mililani district. She should have resigned her legislative seat first so the Party could have recommended to the Governor several qualified Republicans from whom he could choose to fill the vacancy."

# # #

Bonus Read: Who Interned Fukumoto's Grandfather?

NBC: Hawaii Republican Leader Rep. Beth Fukumoto Officially Resigns From GOP

AP: Hawaii Republican resigns from party after criticizing Trump

RS: Hawaii GOP Rep resigns from ‘failing party’ citing racist and sexist bullying

R: Hawaii lawmaker resigns from Republican Party to join Democrats

SA: Fukumoto says she is leaving Hawaii GOP

 

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