Do or die for Hawai’i GOP

State Republican Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai is making some good moves in trying to dig back from the GOP’s disastrous 2008 legislative elections, when the party failed to field candidates in 40 percent of the races and ended up with an irrelevant minority of six of 51 House seats and two of 25 Senate seats.

Ka’auwai recruited candidates for nearly all open seats this year, an important statement that Republicans will fight to retain their status as a major political party in Hawai’i.

Just as important, he recognized that he can’t win ’em all and set a reasonable goal of doubling up this year to 12 House seats and four Senate seats and building from there in future elections.

Reasonable, but still daunting in a state in which nearly every legislative district leans Democratic. And the Republicans start with a handicap after two of their safest seats were put into play when Sen. Fred Hemmings retired and Rep. Lynn Finnegan left the Legislature to run for lieutenant governor.

But there’s a lot of voter discontent after the crushing recession, which tends to favor the out party, and the GOP has some energy going after U.S. Rep. Charles Djou’s victory in the special election to replace Neil Abercrombie.

Republican House and Senate candidates have hot-button issues to work with in the economy, civil unions and the 36-percent pay raise incumbent legislators took for themselves while demanding sacrifices of everybody else.

If the GOP can’t make gains this year, its future is grim as a credible political force in Hawai’i.

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24 Comments on “Do or die for Hawai’i GOP”

  1. Wayne Says:

    Yes, daunting indeed. The Republican hot-buttons are real, but can be spun. My dad used to say about politicians, “They’re all crooks,(but they’re our crooks).”
    I can’t figure out how a platform of fiscal responsibility can be attractive enough to draw enough votes to win an election.
    I do not believe that correcting economic problems lies in a political party. The Democrats have always been in a position to balance the budget. they have control. Building partisan politics could be a step in the wrong direction.
    I don’t know that voting for a particular party just for a change is reason enough to change.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Of course, I’m prejudiced because I’m quietly supporting a Democratic state senate candidate, but I think that it is very likely that the Senate Republicans will shrink down to one – Sam Slom The only Senate incumbent who might be considered in trouble is Jil Tokuda. The four open seats currently or recently held by Bobby Bunda/Gary Hooser/Norman Sakamoto/Fred Hemmings will go to Democrats in the General Election. Similarly, the now-open seat for Carol Fukunaga’s seat will be filled at the Primary while the rest will beat the much lesser known Republicans in the General.

  3. Michael Says:

    Dissention in the Party is what created this chaos.
    The butting of heads in party. Djou also said somethings that people wanted to hear.

    It is known that Democrats may be the majority party here but the elite seat is held by a Republican.
    The one seat held last by lingle and yet the majority party of Democrats just sat and watch and could do nothing but twiddle their thumbs. Even when a Veto was made, they could not Veto the Veto.

    What would it be like if we had a Democrat Governor and the majority Republicans? In reverse roles.

    Wonder what the hoi pollois would say in rebuttal, not as if they read my comment anyways?

  4. Wayne Says:

    I think the hoi pollois, the masses, would accept the existing state of affairs and do nothing. Their elected representatives will accept no responsibility, provide no leadership and wait for their 39% pay raise.
    Kind of screams for a change in affairs don’t it?

  5. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Republicans are in disarray and have nothing to offer the state or nation besides “NO” today.

    After demanding reduced government regulation and lower taxes for years, we are left with a collapsed economy, two continuing wars, the Gulf Disaster and tremendous debt.

    Democrats are faced with massive historical challenges. Republicans want only to obstruct and return to their “Good Ole Days” where the MOST RICH gobble up the lion’s share of wealth and the Middle Class is increasingly squeezed.

    Politics today is similar to driving a car – LOOK to your transmission:

    D (Democrat) means Drive Forward and Progress

    R (Republican) means Reverse and Return to Failure.

    Pretty much sums up this election. You’re free to choose. Just keep this handy election guide with you when you’re heading to the polls.

    Of course, Republicans will try to deceive you by continually throwing out DIVISIVE topics. Do you know, Democrats support Equal Rights for Gay Americans; Did you know, Democrats want to take ASSAULT rifles from our city streets; Did you know, Democrats support RELIGIOUS freedom and this may lead to a mosque being constructed near the cite of the World Trade Center. Did you know ???


  6. Scott Goold Says:

    Whoops … cite = site

  7. Michael Says:

    Screams in volumes.

  8. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    whoops!!! I don’t want to leave a mis-understanding here…Similarly, the now-open seat for Carol Fukunaga’s seat will be filled at the Primary…the seat is not open due a resignation or because she’s not running for re-election. It is on the ballot as her four-year term is up this year and, yes, she’s running for re-election.

    Remember, all elections for State Senate seats this year are for two-year terms because of reapportionment effective in 2012. The process will start shortly after this year’s election and will be completed in early fall 2011,

    Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many of the candidates running on the (R) ticket for the State House and the State Senate who live here on O`ahu.

    Without exception, they are decent, caring people who want to change How We Do Things Around Here, but most of them are not interested in learning the processes involved in making change. They assume that all they have to do is vote NO and the Ds will change.

    Many of them want to disband the DOE and set up district school systems which will make decisions and have taxing authority. Others want to get The Government out of the way for how businesses operate and let the marketplace determine policies.
    Others want to stop supporting social services programs and let families and faith-based organizations supply these services. Others believe that social and economic justice issues such as prison reform or equity access issues or domestic violence concerns can also be market-driven. Others are angry that The Government is not stepping in to make sure that everyone believes and behaves in socially-acceptable ways – by their definitions.

    If these R candidates actually talk about these issues and how they want to resolve them, the I think they will have a very difficult time getting elected.
    That’s why it’s important to ask them very specific questions if D advocates want to get the Rs take on these critical issues.

  9. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    how funny – wonder where the italics came from?

  10. Michael Says:

    Hawaii is not a one way street.
    Cars built like that are subject to recall.
    As they would say, Az da brakes.

    From Italy. LOL.

  11. Wayne Says:

    Ouch, Scott Goold. You are one of the most factual bloggers. But, man, ouch. According to that line of logic Hawaii should be the most forward and progressive states in the union. So where did we go wrong?

  12. WooWoo Says:

    I’ve been away on vacation and until today I have been a very good boy and avoided all local news and blogs. I’ve been catching up; I missed out on some good discussions!

    I honestly don’t know if there will be significant net gains in the R column this fall, but I don’t think that the GOP is in a do or die. Whatever the results this year, they will be better in 2012. The organization is growing stronger and deeper.

    @Cap/Doc- “If these R candidates actually talk about these issues and how they want to resolve them, the I think they will have a very difficult time getting elected.” I disagree. Didn’t Djou do just that? I think you overestimate the independent voter support for many core progressive causes. When fiscal times are good, independents are happy to support social programs and other govt payroll padding that goes on; in tougher times, independents are quite comfortable putting on a fiscally conservative hat.

    @Wayne- “According to that line of logic Hawaii should be the most forward and progressive states in the union. So where did we go wrong?” There is no better question to ask than that. After 5 decades of democratic control, why is Hawaii not a progressive paradise? Lest any Johnny-come-latelies try to pin this on Lingle, I think that those who feel that Cayetano left the state as a paragon of success in 2002 are probably few and far between. Regardless, the democratic legislature has had the continuous power to pass whatever legislation it wanted to for 5 decades. Why aren’t we an economic and social paradise? Hasn’t the left told us that strong unions and a large government sector benefits all?

  13. Shaloha Says:

    I expected a lot more venom directed at Dave once he dared to bring up the dreaded “36% pay raises”. Usually the rest of the motley crew goes into the apoplectic seizure.

    I love the jingoistic tone and the sloganeering from Scott – this is what passes for an intelligent argument in the Democrat circles.

    Drive Forward and Progress to the glorious Revolution and our supreme leader Barak Obamski! Death to the reactionary revanchist GOP Nazis! Exceed achievement of the previous Five Year Plan and produce more hot air then imperialist American exploitators of the Proletariat! Forward to glorious Communist Future!

    The Republicans do stand a chance of improving their position if only for challenging more incumbents.

    The two party system might seem limiting in a lot of ways but what is an alternative? Greens? Nazis? Socialists? Anarchists?

  14. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Charles Djou did not win because of his politcal stances but because the Democratic vote was split between two strong candidates AND because it was a winner-take-all election. Had there been a runoff betweent Colleen and Charles, she would now be sitting in Congress while Charles would still be mumphing around on the City Council.

    Charles is not going to win this fall nor are the Republicans as a Party going to gain much in 2010 or, for that matter, in 2012. Do not mistake independents for teapartytypes.

    About three hours ago, I saw the results of a poll conducted last week concerning the various races – Gov, Lt. Gov, US Senate, US House, and Honolulu Mayor.

    The only race in which the difference between the GOP and the Democratic candidates was below 10% was ProfPP and three of the four Democrats running for this “non-partisan” race. He did manage to beat Rod Tam fairly signficantly, but then so could either one of my cats.

    Of course, the Primary is still seven-plus weeks away and all kinds of things could happen to influence the outcome. However, barring some unexpected revelation about the Democratic candidates appearing on the November ballot, the GOP will once again be an irrelevant Party of NONOs.

  15. Lurch Says:

    Being a staunch liberal (somehow that doesn’t sound right), I was stoked to see Obama get elected. A while later my leftist brother labeled him a warmonger and sell-out. My uber-right wing buddy sent me a video flashing alternating images of Barack Obama and the Russian flag. So, while somewhat a personal disappintment, I guess he is doing OK. Politics, after all, is compromise.
    Which brings me to the dilemna du jour. Mufi or Neil? Bleak. But, as I have heard, politics as entertainment is rarely disappointing. The mud-slinging has begun and it should turn ugly/hilarious really soon. Any suggestions on or next governor?

  16. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha Wayne ~
    I’ve always considered Hawai’i to be one of the most progressive states in the nation. Guess it’s how one looks at the glass …

    Let’s play the what if game: what if Republicans controlled the state?

    Republicans are no longer the party of Teddy Roosevelt – who established Yellowstone Park. Contemporary conservatives would sell all public lands to the highest bigger. Our islands could resemble Hong Kong and be the hub bridging west and east. There wouldn’t be 6 million visitors a year – there would be 600 million. Develop, develop, develop … making money off the ‘aina would be the priority.

    Republicans would drop taxes and provide incentives to industry so the state could host steel mills turning out tons of product for example. Smoke stacks would populate the landscape and pollutants fill our air. Great barges would bring in ore and be filled with finished steel on the return voyage. Making money off the ‘aina would be the priority.

    Do you believe there would be any consideration for the iwi of deceased kanaka mouli under Republican rule? Purchased land becomes the property of the current owners. People would be required to speak English-only – although undocumented workers would be smuggled in to provide inexpensive labor for the latifundia. Republican philosophy would erase Polynesian cultural heritage.

    The superferry project would have been completed years ago. Residents and tourists alike would bounce between island in minutes. Imagine an extended Disneyland. Massive numbers of people everywhere – lost would be the simple, community ‘ohanas we have now. Making money off the ‘aina would be the priority.

    Republicans are champions at exploiting resources to make money. They can buy and sell anything to about anyone. They’re captains of industry and masters over capital. The wealth of the islands would be divided into the hands of the few and representative shareholders. Hawai’i, Inc. would be the new game in the Pacific. Atlantic City, Las Vegas would have nothing over Republican-ville Hawai’i.

    Thankfully, our islands are dominated by Democrat philosophy – where we move a bit slower; take a moment to smell a fragrant hibiscus flower or gaze at a rainbow; respect cultural history; and refuse to stamp a corporate label on every turtle and seal monk.

    Who possibly dislikes Hawai’i? Neither Democrats nor Republicans can take credit for the natural beauty – this is a gift. The difference is in the philosophy of development and stewardship.

    And, herein lies the reason why people are frustrated.

    It’s tough here financially – partially because Democrats put restraints on growth. They seek a balance between the natural surroundings and pressures for development.

    Democrat philosophy lends itself to a tourist-based economy, which means labor will be paid relatively poorly. Limited developed land means basic costs will be high. And, this creates the paradox that leaves many people struggling.

    We have an incredibly diverse state … rich to poor; Polynesian to Caucasian. Under Republican tutelage, this land would be owned and operated by the Fortune 500 crowd – Hawai’i to the highest bidder. This would be the outcome of greater capitalization and Republican rule. Think about it …


  17. Scott Goold Says:

    HaHa!!! Whoops … highest bigger = highest bidder; seal monk = monk seal. Long day.

  18. charles Says:

    Running a ton of candidates and winning a ton of races are two very different things.

    As far as the raises go, every one took them from governor on down, from Dems to Repubs.

  19. David Says:

    …So basically what Scott Goold is saying is that if we elect a republican as governor, the entire state will be sold “to the highest bidder.”…

  20. hawaii kai pundit Says:

    There is no republican party in Hawaii. For a brief moment there was a Linda Lingle party. That is going away in November.

    The party is fracture and dislocated with the country clubbers and the christians finally understanding that they have nothing in common.

  21. Michael Says:

    A puppet of the union.
    lingle could not make decisions
    and bite the hand that fed her.
    she was good at saying bite me, though.

  22. WooWoo Says:


    We will all see soon enough where the Case supporters stand. He was officially a blue dog, so I don’t see how you can argue that Djou’s fiscal conservatism doesn’t jive with a large number of Case voters. In the only poll that I saw breakdowns for (the HA poll about a month before the special), Djou grabbed more independents than Case and Hanabusa combined.


    You didn’t answer the question.

    The question was, why isn’t Hawaii an economic and social paradise, given overwhelming Democratic domination for 50 years? You dodged the question with an answer so weak that even Dave called you on it (Dave, with limited time on his hands, only steps in to call flagrant fouls; its playground rules for reaching-in and most under-the-basket stuff). Your dodge, however, was completely in keeping with the liberal script.

    Step 1: Point out social/economic problem, blame Republicans.
    Step 2: Raise taxes, create government program and bureaucracy to solve problem.
    Step 3: When asked why problem is not solved, say, “It would have been worse if we didn’t spend X billion dollars on it and have X thousand public workers on the job.”

    Its easy to see that this 3 step plan has most recently been applied to the ARRA stimulus program… We can spent $787 billion to keep unemployment under 8%… oops, that didn’t work, but it would have been worse otherwise! The, go back to step 1: The only reason why the plan didn’t work is because of George Bush. Now we need a second stimulus (or a third, who’s counting?) We can solve your problems! Just give us more tax money!

    Locally, we can remember that the single, statewide school system was created to provide an even playing field for rich communities and poor communities. Of course, nobody in their right minds today thinks that the education (or facilities) is as good at Waianae HS or Farrington HS as it is at Kaiser HS. But, the unions and their puppets continue to argue, things would be even worse! Despite devouring over $2 billion a year, all we need is more money and we will fix it this time… promise! Reforming the system? Nah! A republican smokescreen! The idea of real parents making it on to small, local school boards? CRAZY!

    Returning to the national level, lets note that the Democrats have run the formula again. They are promising that the new consumer protection agency will protect us from future abuses. It will not, it will only create another ineffective bureaucracy. Even worse, the health care bill. Can’t you hear it now, when in 10 years the Obama projections for health care spending and the budget miss by a mile? “It would have been worse if we didn’t enact health care reform.” Sure…

  23. hawaii kai pundit Says:

    The question as I recall was “do or die”. Die.

  24. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha WooWoo ~
    Frequently with your posts you spend too much time trying to make your partisan point and fail to “hear” what others are saying. You wrote:

    Goold- You didn’t answer the question. No, I did answer it!

    Wayne had made this point, According to that line of logic Hawaii should be the most forward and progressive states in the union. So where did we go wrong?

    The first line in my response addressed his question directly, as I do not agree with Wayne that Hawai’i is not one of the most forward and progressive states in the union.:

    I’ve always considered Hawai’i to be one of the most progressive states in the nation. Guess it’s how one looks at the glass …

    I then described what the islands would look like if the state was less progressive, if Republicans, rather than liberals, controlled the reigns of power. David’s post completely misses the mark:

    … So basically what Scott Goold is saying is that if we elect a republican as governor, the entire state will be sold “to the highest bidder.”

    We currently have a Republican governor yet nobody would claim Republicans “control the reigns of power” as the legislature is Democratically-held. Thus, I have no idea how David comes up with his straw man argument.

    In my comment currently awaiting moderation (also posted under Mufi Embraces Superferry), abcdef54321 asks for forgiveness for having voted for corporation-loving, regulation-hating, government-despising Conservatives all my adult life.

    abcdef54321 accurately captures a primary theme of the Republican party today. The conservative economic platform can be summarized as supply-side/libertarian, meaning laisse-faire, minimal government intrusion, and highly deregulated business environment with low tax obligations.

    The outcome of this policy, due to Economies of Scale, is larger and larger global corporations and concentrations of economic power. One example would be Wal-Mart.

    Our Founders were liberal progressives. They held great disdain for concentration of power. This is expressed in our First Amendment as they did not want a “Church of England” to develop here. There would be no national religion – faith would be pluralized, open to any and all doctrine.

    Our liberal Founders also diffused political power. Separation of function ensures no one group or individual SHOULD dominate our processes. In Federalist #51, Madison argues eloquently that ambition must counter ambition:

    But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

    Regarding current island conditions, religion is highly diffused from Buddhist temples to Protestant and Catholic missions; political power is divided; and, the economic environment is progressive as well.

    Hawai’i is one of the most regulated states in the nation. These are progressive laws that protect the ‘aina, natural fauna and flora, water – as well as special provisions for the kanaka mouli. Hawai’i, I believe, is the only state in the nation to protect languages other than English by law.

    This greater regulation is expressed observationally by the larger public relative to private sector. I believe the average nationally is around 10%, while the government sector in the islands is some 14%.

    While this progressive architecture protects against Hawai’i being sold to the “highest bidder,” we suffer side affects, as I wrote initially:

    … labor will be paid relatively poorly. Limited developed land means basic costs will be high. And, this creates the paradox that leaves many people struggling.

    If conservative Republicans dominated Hawai’i, as we witnessed shortly after the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom, most of us wouldn’t be able to afford living here – we would be priced out of the market. The kanaka mouli would be gone, as would their claims to land rights.

    As Bill Clinton famously quipped, “it’s the economy, stupid!”

    Nobody complains about the weather, the kai or natural conditions here. For most, the greatest concern is the challenge of making ends meet. Traffic isn’t like Los Angeles; snow doesn’t fall as it does in Chicago or Minneapolis.

    If I could magically put $10,000,000 in each of your bank accounts, you would not complain about schools, roads or the high price of milk or gasoline. In fact I’m positive there would be few complaints at all.

    For those who currently have $10,000,000 in their bank accounts, their only complaint is … TAXES!

    And, vibrant taxation represents progressive philosophies as well. Similarly as we abhor concentration of religion and political power, we likewise work to dissolve extreme concentration of economic wealth. Progressives believe in estate (death) taxes, because ALL children should start on a level playing field. Liberals believe in redistribution of wealth, which ensures in part a healthy middle class. And, this robust middle class allows the majority of us to be here – and the majority of visitors to afford their vacations, weddings and honeymoons here.

    In a less progressive environment, say Bolivia or Nicaragua, only the MOST RICH are able to afford exotic island vacations and cruises.

    When working politically, I love to use this expression: if one wants to live like a conservative Republican, they must vote liberal Democrat.

    Hope this clarifies your confusion … mahalo for the discussion.


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