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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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.
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