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Sunday, May 17, 2009
Hawaii GOP Convention Coverage
By Selected News Articles @ 2:05 PM :: 9755 Views :: Energy, Environment

(This will be updated as more articles are published....)

RELATED: UPDATE: Hawaii media prepares for State GOP Convention

Republicans urged to unite: GOP challenged to gain seats in 2010 election by sticking to core beliefs

WAIKOLOA -- Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona told Republicans at their state convention today they do not need to act like Democrats to get elected and must to return to core principles of lower taxes, smaller government and greater personal freedom.  Aiona, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, said the party lost ground in 2008 because Republicans abandoned core principles.  "Sometimes the truth hurts. And the truth is the Democrats have run out of ideas," Aiona told delegates gathered in a ballroom at the Marriott Waikoloa Beach Resort & Spa on the Big Island.  Gov. Linda Lingle made a plea to dissidents within the party to put aside their differences and come together to elect Aiona and other Republican candidates in 2010. The governor said there would be time after the election to have ideological debates within the party.

Brian Schatz, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, said Republicans appear to be struggling to find a voice.

"They've chosen to rally the base and I'm not sure that's where the mainstream of Hawai'i is," he said. "Mainstream Hawai'i voters want people who have moderate and tolerant views, and this move to the right will very likely hurt them in 2010."

Schatz believes Republicans are moving to the right both locally and nationally. "It's what you do when you don't have a plan," he said, "you rally whoever remains in your shrinking tent."

Ka'auwai said he believes the state GOP is "going big tent. Definitely. And the reason why I believe that is everyone has a different opinion, and we're going to welcome every single opinion into the Hawaii Republican Party.

"And I think the unique thing about myself is the spirit of aloha that I understand and that I embody," he said. "And because of that spirit of aloha, it's one that we're going to agree to disagree, but we're going to be able to come together and agree on several things — not just things on the right or things on the left or things in the middle."

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Hawaii Republicans elect 36-year-old as new leader


By Herbert A. Sample, Associated Press Writer

WAIKOLOA, Hawaii — Dissatisfied with the state of their organization, the Hawaii Republican Party on Saturday chose as their new chairman a 36-year-old government worker who promised to energize the party with new members and greater political success.

Meeting at their annual convention on the Big Island, party members elected Jonah Kaauwai as chairman for the next two years. Kaauwai was a deputy chief of staff for Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona until a few months ago, and he now works for the state Department of Public Safety.

Kaauwai defeated Honolulu businessman Mike Palcic and Paul Smith, the head of a conservative grassroots group called the Hawaii Republican Assembly. The vote tally was not announced. Two other candidates, Robert Kessler and Jimmy Kuroiwa, recently dropped out.

"I am resolute, I am unwavering, when I say the future of Hawaii's children...depends upon the success and strength of a re-energized Hawaii Republican Party," Kaauwai said. "We must embrace a new vision. Our wish must be to recruit, train and elect proud Republicans to all offices in this state."

Still, the state GOP faces some high hurdles over the next two years. Gov. Linda Lingle, the first elected Republican governor since statehood, will leave office after next year.

Aiona is the lone GOP candidate seeking his party's nomination, and he is widely considered to be an underdog to the only Democrat now vying for his party's nod, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

Moreover, Republicans hold only eight of the Legislature's 76 seats. Even Lingle told the GOP gathering Saturday there is virtually no way the party can gain parity with Democrats in next year's legislative elections.

Thus, the state GOP's only hope for holding on to influence at the Capitol is to elect Aiona, she added.

Whatever the challenges, though, the Republicans gathered here expressed elation that many of the nearly 300 party members attending the convention had traveled to the Big Island to do so, and that more than 500 new members have registered with the party in recent weeks.

"The Republican Party is not dead," said Celyn Chong Kee, 56, an Oahu state worker and veteran convention attendee. "There's an air of excitement."

Oahu roofing consultant Les Hines, 46, said the party "may have been lackadaisical in some ways" in recent years.

"We need someone that gets us all motivated," he added.

That was the message from allies of Kaauwai, who contended he could bring a fervor to the party that has been lacking of late.

In his address to the gathering after his victory, Kaauwai promised that a "Republican hurricane is coming."

"I'm ready and willing to push this party forward and get Republican candidates elected," he added.

Kaauwai said he create a "world-class" effort to get the party's message out and respond to Democrats. That message, he added, is centered around values that he claimed are "under attack by the liberals."

He said he wants the state party to welcome all viewpoints on contentious issues, even if he personally disagrees with them.

Some critics have worried aloud that Kaauwai, who has strong religious beliefs, would push the party too far to the right ideologically, and make it less attractive to moderate voters.

But in an interview, Kaauwai said he would not personally press for changes in the state party's platform next year, even if he strongly agrees or disagrees with rule proposals.

"That's not my role as the leader of the Republican Party," he said.

Lingle did not officially endorse a candidate for the chairman's post, which she held before she was first elected to the governor's office in 2002.

But in her speech before the vote, the governor appeared to give a nod to Kaauwai when she said it is time for younger Republicans to take leadership positions.

"Of course we have more experience than they do. We've been on the Earth longer than they have," the governor said. "This is these young peoples' time....Let's not in any way damp down their enthusiasm."

She also pleaded for Republicans who opposed Kaauwai or have differences over policy issues to subsume their feelings and instead unify the party.

"No one is going to hand (the 2010) election to us," she said. "So for those of you who want to focus attention on where we disagree, I ask you to give it a rest for a while."

Elected along with Kaauwai were vice chairs Marcia Klompus, Rep. Lynn Finnegan, Jim Bryan, Ted Hong and Keoki Leong, and secretary Lisa Colluccio and treasurer Kathi Thomason.

But Eric Ryan, a Republican activist, said of the new state GOP team: "Not one of these officers has ever run a campaign, most have never been on a campaign, though two have run as candidates in a string of losing campaigns." 

(I wonder what that "Rep." in front of Lynn Finnegan's name means?  How did that get there?  Oh yes, and the Gov's 2006 campaign?  Most of these officers were part of that campaign.)

Hong and Leong have lost races for the state Legislature, Ryan said.

Hawaii Presidential Caucus

The party also backed a rule change that would create a winner-take-all presidential caucus for Hawaii Republicans, akin to the caucus system used in Iowa, on the third Tuesday of February during presidential election years.

Previously, Hawaii Republicans in the winter of those years selected delegates to the state GOP convention, which is held in the spring. At that gathering, delegates were elected to attend the national convention in the summer.

But candidates rarely bother to campaign in the state, which offered almost 20 delegates last year. Supporters of the new rule said it would make Hawaii more attractive to candidates involved in a multi-candidate field early in the presidential primary season.

The party also announced that the National Republican Committee will hold its January 2010, meeting on Oahu.

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KGMB: Hawaii GOP Elects New Leadership For 2009-2011

Upon his election, Chairman Ka'auwai signaled that his team is ready to hit the ground running. "I am excited and energized to move our party forward and reach out to every voter that the Hawaii Republican Party is here to represent everyone in this state."

Convention attendees were excited by the opportunities in 2010 to elect a new Governor,
a new Congressman for the 1st Congressional District, as well to increase Republican representation in the State Legislature, especially in light of the onerous tax increases just passed by a Democrat legislature overturning Governor Linda Lingle's veto of the tax increases.

Speeches by Governor Linda Lingle, Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou, Republican House Leader Lynn Finnegan and others repeatedly brought the entire convention to their feet in support of Republican values and ideals.

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KITV: Lingle: It's Time For Younger Republicans To Lead, Aiona Says Democrats Are 'Party Of No Ideas'

Lingle, speaking at the state GOP convention on the Big Island, also is calling on Republicans to subsume their differences over policy issues.

She wants them to unify to nominate Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona for governor next year, and then elect him to the post.

Lingle said that is the only way Republicans can retain power in the Capitol after her term ends in early 2011, since Republicans cannot soon overtake the large majority Democrats enjoy in the state Legislature.

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