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  • Hawaii Needs an Effective Opposition Party

    · By Todd Simmons

    Hawaii Republicans might be forgiven in late 2014 for having wished the year a hurried farewell.  Simply put, it was a tough 12 months. And 2015 thus far doesn’t seem like much of an improvement.

    Not only did the party fall enormously short of bold new voter registration goals announced in the wake of passage of the state’s Marriage Equality Act, the GOP absorbed an epic beatdown last fall in Hawaii’s general election.  While the party was posting huge wins on the mainland, taking over the U.S. Senate and dramatically boosting its Congressional majority, it failed to win a single federal or statewide race in the Aloha State, despite mid-year predictions that Duke Aiona would be elected governor and Charles Djou returned to Congress.

    Though Republicans had picked up a single seat in the state House, the gain didn’t last long, as House Minority Leader Aaron Ling Johanson announced in late December that he would join the Democrats. Representation in the state Legislature: eight seats out of 76 total.

    Happy New Year!

    Hawaii Republican State Party Chair Pat Saiki, left, and Miriam Hellreich at a GOP function in 2014.

    Chad Blair/Civil Beat

    State Party Chair Pat Saiki, who bitterly lashed out at Johanson for his defection, probably wasn’t made any happier by Aiona’s recent announcement that he had accepted the interim executive directorship of Hawaii Family Advocates, a group best known in recent years for its vitriolic and failed opposition to same-sex marriage.  That served as a reminder that every non-incumbent

  • Denby Fawcett: What Makes Cam Cavasso Keep Running for U.S. Senate?

    · By Denby Fawcett

    Republican Cam Cavasso is making his third consecutive bid to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by the late Dan Inouye.

    Cavasso is a Christian fundamentalist, a socially conservative champion of views that often fall flat in Democrat-dominated Hawaii.

    I have been curious for some time to find out why the relatively unknown, underfunded Cavasso keeps running for office when his proposals consistently fail to capture the imagination of most of Hawaii’s liberal Democrats.  And when he has had to struggle to raise money in each of his two previous attempts to unseat Inouye.

    Cam Cavasso speaks at the GOP Lokahi Event 2014, Kapiolani Park Bandstand.

    Courtesy: Hawaii Republican Party

    Now as he faces off against another well-funded opponent, Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Cavasso is again scrambling to find money.

    Cavasso spoke with me on the phone before he took off on Sunday for Washington, D.C., to seek financial backing and support for his candidacy from national GOP sources.

    He told me he keeps campaigning because “I have been called to run for the Senate by my family, my state and by my God.”

    He says political leadership is where his gifts and talents lie and it would be wrong not to use those gifts.

    Cavasso is a self-proclaimed born-again Christian who says he received his calling to God in 1978.   He is a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Red Hill where he teaches a Bible study class to adults every Sunday except for when he

  • Chad Blair: Republicans on Parade

    · By Chad Blair

    I’ve seen this parade before.

    Dozens of hopeful candidates from diverse walks of life, hopeful, excited, sporting banners and signs and buttons and T-shirts and stickers and websites, all believing this will be the election year that Hawaii elects more than a token representation of Republicans.

    I saw this parade just two years ago, when Linda Lingle and Charles Djou went down to defeat in runs for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

    I saw it as well in 2010, when Djou lost his re-election bid for the 1st Congressional District, Cam Cavasso was beat by the unbeatable U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and Duke Aiona was felled in a gubernatorial landslide caused by Democrat Neil Abercrombie.

    Future governor, congressman and lieutenant governor? From left, Duke Aiona, Charles Djou and Elwin Ahu.

    Chad Blair/Civil Beat

    Some of the very same Republican candidates crowded the Kapiolani Park Bandstand on Saturday afternoon at a party unity rally, including Aiona, Djou and Cavasso again running for the same top seats.

    Same goes for state House of Representatives candidates Julia Allen and Carole Kauhiwai Kaapu, who failed to depose Democrats Calvin Say and John Mizuno in 2010 and 2012 but are back at it again.

    “A couple of weeks ago, friends, we had a hurricane here, and I’m not talking about the rain.” — Charles Djou

    Indeed, Allen, who can be seen sign-waving most election-season mornings at the corner of Waialae Avenue and St. Louis Drive, also ran against Say in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Say is no longer House speaker, but he

  • Denby Fawcett: Hawaii GOP Chairwoman Pat Saiki’s Great Challenge

    · By Denby Fawcett

    At age 84, Hawaii GOP chairwoman Pat Saiki has left behind a comfortable life, playing golf twice a week, hand-stitching Hawaiian quilts, and hanging out with family and friends to take on an enormous challenge: getting more Republicans elected to public office in a diehard Democrat state.

    With just seven Republicans in the state House and only one Republican in the state Senate, she has her hands full.

    Political analyst Neal Milner says any candidate running as a Republican in Hawaii, no matter how worthy, is at a great disadvantage from the beginning.

    Says Milner, “You start out with a ball and chain on your ankle, 20 yards behind everyone else.”

    Hawaii Republican Party chairwoman Pat Saiki, center, with GOP gubernatorial hopeful Duke Aiona and his wife, Vivian.

    Hawaii Republican Party

    Former Hawaii GOP executive director Dylan Nonaka says, “To win, a Republican candidate has to do everything right, work twice as hard as a Democrat and get lucky.”

    Saiki says she’s not throwing out numbers of how many GOP victories she envisions in Hawaii this election.

    “Hopefully some gains. Any win is progress,” she says. “The more the merrier. It’s a beginning, OK! I am hoping people will soon see a resurgence of Hawaii’s Republican Party.”

    By a resurgence of the GOP, Saiki means like back in the mid 1970s when she was serving in the state Senate. “There were nine Republican senators. We had enough votes to hold up the budget if we wanted to.”

    Saiki says her overall goal is to

  • Who Wants To Be A U.S. Senator?

    · By Chad Blair

    UPDATED 12/24/12 2 p.m. A whole bunch of Hawaii Democrats, that’s who. Civil Beat handicaps the appointment of Inouye’s successor.

  • Almost No Debt for Dems, But GOP Still Owes $66K

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    Hawaii’s Democratic and Republican parties are in much better fiscal shape compared to last year.

  • Abercrombie: ‘There Is A War On Our Basic Values’

    · By Chad Blair

    Governor fires up Hawaii Democrats, demands all CD2 candidates participate in convention forum.

  • Off The Beat: The Mouse That Roared

    · By The Civil Beat Staff

    Tiny Molokai will work for big change.

  • Hawaii GOP Hopes the Future Is Theirs

    · By Chad Blair

    Led by young Republicans, Lingle and Djou, minority party eyes electoral success.

  • Lingle: United Hawaii GOP Can Win More Seats

    · By Chad Blair

    U.S. Senate candidate reiterates need for “balanced, two-party system.”

  • Hawaii Republican Caucuses: Headquarters

    · By Nathan Eagle

    UPDATED Turnout of more than 10,000 led to ballot shortages in some precincts.

  • Hawaii Republican Caucuses: Lihue, Kauai

    · By Jon Letman

    The under-40 crowd was noticeably absent from the Kauai GOP caucuses.

  • Hawaii Republican Caucuses: Waimea, Hawaii

    · By TIFFANY EDWARDS HUNT

    Energetic voters at Waimea’s caucus help breath new life into the GOP.

  • Hawaii Republican Caucuses: Kahului, Maui

    · By TODD A. VINES

    Ron Paul brings out the passion in Maui voters.

  • Hawaii Victory Gives Romney Something to Cheer About on Santorum’s Night

    · By Chad Blair

    UPDATED State’s first GOP presidential caucus puts Hawaii on political map.