Governor’s race goes to church

Republican Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai has launched an aggressive push to counter Mufi Hannemann’s courtship of Christian conservatives who support Republican James “Duke” Aiona.

In a lengthy message to the Hawai’i Christian Coalition, endorsed by coalition state chairman Garret Hashimoto, Ka’auwai accused the Hannemann campaign of acting “unethically, immorally, and far below reproach” in its efforts to get church-goers to pull Democratic ballots in the primary and support Hannemann over Neil Abercrombie.

The message is full of biblical references and exposes the strong religious undercurrent of the governor’s race that has received little public attention as Aiona and Hannemann battle for the Christian vote. The Ka’auwai message is being well-circulated online and could spotlight the issue for a broader audience. (You can read the full message here.)

Ka’auwai’s message, addressed to “Pastors and Brothers/Sisters in Jesus Christ,” accused Hannemann and his surrogates of making appearances in churches to persuade worshippers “that Christians should vote in September 18th’s primary election on the Democrat ballot for Mufi Hannemann to retard the chances of a Neil Abercrombie win rather than supporting Duke Aiona through both the primary and general elections.”

“For the Body of Christ to think Duke Aiona will lose to either Neil Abercrombie or Mufi Hannemann in the general election is not a church operating in FAITH but operating in FEAR,” Ka’auwai wrote. “The Hannemann campaign’s strategy is a trap of lies and baited deception and is being fueled by that very FEAR! DO NOT BE DECEIVED!!!”

Other excerpts:

When Ken Wong (of the Hannemann campaign committee) or Mufi approach or call you, you must probe, uncover their plans of conquest that have no righteous intent and rebuke them for trying to use your church as a platform for their deception and your personal influence to further unrighteousness.

Duke will win because the Church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS! We are the HEAD and not the tail; we are the VICTORS not the victims! If Duke Aiona does not win it will be the burden of the Body of Christ to bear so rather than preparing to have to deal with either Mufi or Neil winning the Church, we should be preparing for Duke to WIN. Neither Mufi Hannemann nor Neil Abercrombie is righteous and a vote for either in the primary or general election is succumbing to fear and advancing unrighteousness!


Galatians 5:22 tells us the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Has anyone seen that kind of fruit through Mufi Hannemann? Ask Ken why he endorses a man whose fruit shows no signs of righteousness or being controlled by the Holy Spirit. At many levels, Mufi is worse than Neil.


Duke Aiona’s Campaign for Governor is the Body of Christ’s opportunity to operate in the AUTHORITY and to be proactive. The Primary Election is the first step to bringing back a righteous leader to the highest office in this State which has not been seen since Queen Lili’uokalani. Over 100 years ago! With more than 400,000 Christians in the State of Hawaii, WE are responsible no matter what the outcome of Duke’s race because we have been given the POWER and the AUTHORITY in the NAME OF JESUS!!!!

Ka’auwai makes an exception to his warnings against crossovers in House District 33, where he urges Christian Republicans to take Democratic ballots and vote for civil unions opponent Gary Okino against Rep. Blake Oshiro, the author of HB 444.

UPDATE: Duke Aiona issued the following statement:

“While faith is a central part of my life, I’m running for Governor to serve all the people of Hawai‘i – regardless of their religion.

“The goal of our grassroots campaign is to connect with every citizen in every community of this great state, and Chairman Ka‘auwai’s personal comments are seen by many as divisive.

“Our campaign is focused on families, friends and neighbors of all backgrounds, and we’re going to continue to reach out to all the citizens of Hawai‘i.”

I also asked Jonah Ka’auwai for clarification of what he meant when he said Aiona would be Hawai’i’s first “righteous leader” since Lili’uokalani. He sent this response:

“This letter was sent out as a private email to Christian Pastors not intended for publication. Upon reflection, I can see that some of my words carry implications which I did not intend. I did not intend to make a broad-brush judgment about all of Hawaii’s Governors, Republican or Democrat.”

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31 Comments on “Governor’s race goes to church”

  1. Kolea Says:

    What country are we in? Or, more precisely, what century are we living in? Has the entire GOP gone insane?

  2. Doug Says:

    Tell us with a straight face that you didn’t see this at first, David. Credit where credit is due, please.

  3. David Shapiro Says:

    Doug, if you really care, I first saw it in an email from John Carroll, who was unhappy with the party’s favoritism of Aiona over him. I was more interested in the bigger issue. I did see Ian’s when I did a Google search before I posted and he did a good job.

  4. David Shapiro Says:

    The S-A also has it with a different angle.

  5. Kolea Says:

    Seriously, what has happened to this country so that a major political party can run against the Enlightenment without fear of embarrassment?

    I confess. I grew up wearing a Davy Crockett coonskin cap, with six-guns strapped to my side. I read the Young Adult Johnny Tremaine and “We were There at Vally Forge” type of history books. I LOVED Thomas Jefferson.

    But WTH is happening to this country? The Tea Party movement has adopted a two-dimensional, cartoonish understanding of “the Founding Fathers,” yet HATE the Enlightenment? I met for coffee and a sandwich with a Jewish friend a couple of weeks ago in a coffee shop in Kaimuki run by religious conservatives. They had books on the shelves devoted to rekindling respect for the political vision of the Puritans. You know, thos e who burned the “witches” and the stake and executed Quakers for being too tolerant. At least these folks are conscious and consistent in what they believe. Let’s respect them for that. As opposed to the Glenn Beck followers trying to claim THEY are the successors to Martin Luther King’s vision. These born-again Puritans won’t pretend to love Jefferson, Franklin and Thomas Paine, but would recognize them as their enemies.

    “America” is SIMULTANEOUSLY MLK and George Wallace, Cotton Mathers and Roger Williams, John D. Rockefeller and Mother Jones. The new “conservatives” are actually the latest outbreak of nativist reactionaries, a latterday “Know Nothing” movement. (Funny how people with an idealized, emotional attachment to figures from the past actually avoid the study of history.)

    I strongly recommend we start reviewing earlier outbreaks of this nonsense:

    If the local GOP leadership is not willing to play the Adult Role in dealing with these people, moderate Republicans should run for the hills rather than empower these folks and rewarding party leaders willing to profit from such ignorance.

  6. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Oh wow!! What about the Church of the Crossroads (United Church of Christ) or Harris United Methodist Church? I gather from this diatribe that Christian progressives as well as Jews & Buddhists & Muslims not only don’t vote but also they don’t count.

    Interesting that the GOP urges “Christians” to vote for Gary Okino but not for Norman Sakamoto or Bobby Bunda.

    Can you imagine what the tone of the General Election is going to be with one side headed by a “Secular Humanist” & a Reform Jew and the other team led by two different flavors of Christian fundamentalism.

    Actually, the tactic of asking the GOP regulars to pull a Democratic ballot is being used in a number of Democratic Primary races.

    Will it work? Any thoughts on this from Das Shapiro Regularists?

  7. Gargoyle Says:

    Don’t be too upset Dave, Jonah is doing your beloved friend Neil Abercrombie a BIG favor here. Mufi will lose without Republicans crossing over to vote in the Democratic Primary.

  8. shaftalley Says:

    how about a MUFI/AIONA ticket?that would get the bible voters revved and pentacostaling in nuuanu creek.

  9. Nikki Heat Says:

    Dave, on the different angle, I think the Star-Advertiser secular humanist-types give the GOP and Jonah waaay too much credit.
    If the GOP leadership was being strategic about the Governor’s race, why have general election contests in Democratic legislative strongholds throughout the State (for example, why put up token and extreme opposition to Central Maui’s Shan Tsutsui and Joe Souki [the other Central Maui house seat has appointed Rep. Gil Agaran running for the first time so challenging him is not a bad idea even if Kahului is full of Democrats who voted for Cayetano, unpopular as he was over Lingle in 1998])? If the GOP was strategic for the gubernatorial race, why force Tsutsui and Souki to mount “real” campaigns to get out the Democratic faithful even more than they would?
    In the world I grew up in, if Jonah was a real God-fearing, Bible believing Christian, he wouldn’t be in support of a Roman Catholic (let alone a Mormon), at least not in the edifying language used in his sermon to the GOP faithful (the lapsed cradle Episcopalian from northern New York, of course, even if still partaking of the Eucharist, would be no better than a Catholic who attends services in a building where priests can marry; now Schatz is a different matter if you accept that the Abrahamic promise still applies that if you bless God’s people then you will be blessed). Politics make strange bedfellows for Evangelicals to embrace Dukie in the language Kaauwai uses– Roman Catholics remained a mission field when I was a kid in a fundamentalist church. As Mitt Romney discovered, a Mormon still ain’t considered a “Christian” in certain GOP Religious Right circles.
    If the GOP strategists think the Religious Right obsession with gay rights is the winning issue, then I can understand why they think Neil is an easier contrast to the “independent leader” (his “rise and shine” commercial can’t even openly disclose Duke is a REPUBLICAN). But unless “Christian” voters go along with the notion that nothing is more important than keeping gays in the legal closet — and even the Hawaii Family Forum candidates questionnaire included questions on poverty and housing — I think it’s dangerous to assume that Duke will fare better against Abercrombie. Except for civil unions, I don’t think Mufi and Neil differ widely on issues important to Democratic Party coalition members (afterall the public worker unions split between the two of them– with the educators in UHPA and HSTA going with Neil and HGEA and UPW siding with Mufi)– and last I saw, as all the Kolea types trumpet here, Hawaii remains a Democratic Party stronghold.
    I think it shows the GOP leadership has not only been preaching to the choir but basically evangelizing (and polling) only in the pews.

  10. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Quoting from American Taleban Republican Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai:

    Duke will win because the Church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS! We are the HEAD and not the tail; we are the VICTORS not the victims!

    Quoting from the WaPost today:

    You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don’t know what that is, other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it, Glenn Beck said.

    Although Beck was trying to falsely tag President Obama with his vitriolic self-righteousness and judgment, we can see that both Beck and Ka’auwai are extremists that have no legitimate place in American politics.

    These tactics of the Politics of Division serve only to collapse our national fabric, playing directly into the hands of sworn enemies such as Usama Bin Laden.


  11. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    We trumpet? Actually, compared to the Tea Party types both locally & nationally, we Prog-Libs sound like a bunch of first-time buglers trying to play the National Anthem blind-folded while wearing mittens & earmuffs while their fulminators are getting The Faithful ready-2-go knock on doors, hold signs, and take over community coffee hours and town hall meetings.

    The Big Box churches – which actually rent space on Sundays from local high schools such as Farrington – know exactly what they’re doing and how to get around the IRS. I filed a complaint about their endorsesement methods in the 1992 & 1994 Campaigns which led to a new process – an open endosement process rather than pre-selecting candidates.

    Of course, the results are the same, but at least every candidate is offered the opportunity to respond to questions and to provide statements on their positions.

    If that has changed back to The Old Way Of How We Do Busines Around Here, then I suggest that the issue be re-visited. Any interest around here in joining me if I file another round of complaint?

  12. David Shapiro Says:

    Nikki, after the embarrassment of 2008 when Republicans let 40 percent of legislative races go uncontested, Ka’auwai had to try to field a candidate in every district to restore credibility as a major political party.

    On the bigger issue, the strategy of making religion so much of an issue in the governor’s race, in language beyond what even the Sarah Palins would dare use, eludes me. It’s never played in Hawai‘i. When the Pat Robertson group got control of the local GOP a couple of decades ago, it was a disaster from which the party still hasn’t recovered, costing them the defections of heavy hitters like Ann Kobayashi, Donna Ikeda and Andy Anderson.

    I think Aiona and Ka’auwai are operating from true belief more than strategy. One of the beliefs seems to be that there’s a huge body of Christian conservatives out there who have never been politically active before who are going to rise up and carry them to victory. I don’t see it. I think it’s more likely to narrow their voter pool by turning off moderates and independents who might have otherwise considered Aiona, but won’t because of this.

    But I’ve been wrong before.

  13. Michael Says:

    lingle is Jewish.
    Senator Inouye is Buddhist.
    hanneman maybe? Mormon. I am sure they Voted!
    The final vote was made by a Jewish governor.

    Blow your trumpet Satchmo. Play, What a Wonderful World. Tired of just listening to the wind.

  14. Nikki Heat Says:

    Daniel K. Inouye is a Methodist.

  15. Kolea Says:

    Hey Nikki,

    It’s not important that you understand the “nuances” of my outlook, but I cannot recall ever “trumpeting” that “Hawaii remains a Democratic Party stronghold.”

    While it might be possible for the Democrats to use their super-majority in the Legislature to pass progressive legislation (like the did in the 50s, 60s, and 70s), in practice, the “Big Tent” approach has meant that pragmatic opportunists eager to gain legislative influence become Democrats out of convenience. They are really more interested in joining the Majority Caucus of their chamber than in professing any commitment to the platform or principles of the Democratic Party.

    AS you know, the factions (or blocs) in the Senate are not defined by philosophical differences. Even in the House, where it is sometimes portrayed as a struggle between “conservative” old guard Dems in the Speaker’s faction versus more “reform-minded” dissidents clustered around Sylvia Luke and Scott Saiki, the conflict strikes me as alignments of convenience and personality, perhaps a bit generational, rather than over competing social visions.

    I am more likely to “lament” the continued Democratic legislative supermajority than to “trumpet” it. If the Dems ARE going to dominate, I want them to conduct such debates internally instead of just muddling along, enforcing the status quo. Part of my frustration with the local GOP is their tendency to indulge the “dingbat” edge of their party rather than provide practical solutions to our problems. (As always, Cynthia Thielen remains an exception to this general statement).

    This “birther,” “Obama is a socialist/Secret Muslim, political army of God stuff, etc,” is a detour into theatrics and demogoguery, rather than responsible citizenship. It WILL work with a percentage of the population. I hope that percentage is still small and I would HOPE responsible Republicans would work to put a stop to it and/or distance themselves from it. But I fear the adults have left the building.

  16. Nikki Heat Says:

    Kolea/ Wassup:
    I take back “trumpeting” (I was think escathologically late at night when I drafted my comment).
    I agree about the legislature– I don’t get the sense that the House majority split is a generational thing (e.g., Pono, Blake and Marcus are around the same age as Sylvia, Scott S., and K. Mark) as a power thing. If you check out the votes on HB444, I would guess “dissidents” (e.g., Luke, Saiki, C. Lee, Shimabukuro, Hanohano, Berg, Takumi, Carroll, Nishimoto, Au-Belatti, Bertram, Morita, Brower) helped get the bill as close as it did to a veto-proof majority, while allowing Cal’s pals and leadership team (e.g.,Tokioka, Sagum, Mizuno, Magaoay, Evans, Manahan, Yamane, Har, Souki in 2010, Tsuji, Ito, Chang, McKelvey in 2009, Awana) to vote for “traditional marriage” to protect themselves in their districts (not that it helped those who ended up with Christian Right opposition anyway).

  17. WooWoo Says:

    If someone says that I believe that murder is wrong because that is what the Bible teaches, is that an invalid position?

    How much of this sturm and drang about separation of church and state from the political left is really anti-evangelical christian?

    If a major political party were led by a Buddhist, and this hypothetical person used the bully pulpit to explicitly appeal to Buddhist congregations (quoting Buddhist scriptures) to gather and march for peace and an end to all war, is there the same level of outrage from the left?

    Seriously. Answer the question honestly. Is separation of church and state really the issue? Or is it separation of state from church viewpoints you disagree with?

    How much of this is you just don’t like the people on the other side?

    When someone on the right says that the person they admire the most is Jesus Christ, secular liberals roll their eyes. When someone on the left says that the person they admire the most is the Dalai Lama, secular liberals applaud.

    Double standard?

  18. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I like he passage from Gullibles 1:15 that simply states:


    But I guess even that message is open to interpretation.

  19. HaleiwaJoe Says:

    The Six Commandments of Jonah

    Thou shalt not vote for Mufi in a Democrat primary

    Thou shalt not put false candidates before me

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors yard signs

    Thou shalt not ride rail

    Thou shalt not take Linda Lingle’s name in vain. 

    Thou shalt not read Volcanic Ash

  20. David Shapiro Says:

    I appended a statement by Duke Aiona to the post above.

  21. Nikki Heat Says:

    May be Duke shoulda just said: all Republicans should vote in our primary and we’ll take on whomever the Democrats nominate.

  22. David Shapiro Says:

    WooWoo, I share your concern about the smug anti-religion views of some on the left, but this statement was way out there and it would have caused rolling of eyes if someone injected the dogma of any religious faith into a political race to this extent. Linda Lingle’s eyes must have rolled like pinballs when she read this statement.

    It’s also a mistake to view conservative Christians as a monolithic bloc incapable of critical thought. I first became aware that Hannemann was working the evangelical churches when I got an e-mail from a member of one of the churches where he spoke saying that she and others in the congregation were huhu at the pastor that Abercrombie wasn’t also invited to speak. Many of these folks are quite capable of looking past the “social” issues to the broader issues in an election, especially in state and local races.

  23. shaftalley Says:

    hope i didn’t offend people of faith in my last post.

  24. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha WooWoo ~
    You wrote, If someone says that I believe that murder is wrong because that is what the Bible teaches, is that an invalid position? How much of this sturm and drang about separation of church and state from the political left is really anti-evangelical christian?

    I am part of the POLITICAL LEFT … I’m not ANTI your or ANY religion. Believe how you want. I get concerned – if and only if – people from another religion begin telling me who has the right god. For example:

    After his rally Sunday, Beck told Fox News that Obama “is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim.”

    “People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity,” Beck added.

    Glenn Beck is a fantastic Mormon Missionary. Know them well. He believes he is divinely ordained with gods truth. I respectfully disagree.

    I disagree when Republican Chairman Jonah Ka’auwai echos this strategy. It is divisive politics. It is similar to debating abortion each day.

    Carry god in your heart; vote your convictions; but out of respect to your own god and also to the god of my choice, minimize the display of faith in the public arena.

    That’s all an individual on the POLITICAL LEFT is asking.


  25. Kolea Says:


    I am interested in your attempt to give Jonah a chance to clarify his claim Aiona would be the first “righteous leader to the highest office in this State” since Liliuokalani. How can that not be seen as a slam on all previous governors, including Lingle? Weren’t any of the previous Governors “Christian” enough for Jonah? Or maybe the wrong kind of “Christian”? Or maybe they weren’t Hawaiian enough?

    Jonah’s statement that it was a “private” email does not explain away his harsh indictment of Lingle and all previous governors.

  26. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea, those are exactly the questions I had about what he meant.

  27. Michael Says:

    Daniel K. Inouye is a Methodist”

    I stand corrected. Nikki

    Senator Inouye’s parents were Buddhist.

  28. Kolea Says:

    I wonder if Jonah was confusing his target audience. Some Hawaiians are clearly “Christian social conservatives.” The anti-civil unions forces would sometimes try to portray GLBT activists as “outsider, haoles” trying to import alien values. And some GLBT activists fed into that stereotype with their behavior.

    So if Jonah had that group in mind, his implicit argument that ALL government since the overthrow has been illegitimate and “unrighteous” MIGHT have some resonance. But how many of the broader, born-again Christian conservatives are willing to go along with his not so subtle condemnation of the US presence in Hawaii?

    The Hawaii GOP has long had a strange alliance of Hawaiians, particularly from haimakamaka families, and what had once been the haole oligarchy, Big Five, missionary families. They often inter-married. Even though the GOP descended from exactly the group which overthrew the monarchy, these groups were united against the upstart, late-arrival groups, especially the AJAs and the unions. Obviously, these forces have diminished in significance as time has passed, but Lingle was very effective in strengthening the Hawaiian presence in the GOP. I give her credit for that.

    But we still have this odd, contradictory relationship, expressed in Jonah’s letter. I wonder how the “white wing” of the GOP base is responding to this letter?
    In his follow-up, backtracking statement, he says:

    “Upon reflection, I can see that some of my words carry implications which I did not intend.”

    So Jonah, let’s help you clarify your meaning, what DID you intend to say with your remarks?

  29. Nikki Heat Says:

    Jonah is not backing down, based on the little snippet from the TV newscasts last night.
    But then, a good prophet never backs down from the message the LORD has charged him to transmit (privately in an email) to an unrepentant people.

  30. Michael Says:

    Then one should ask why Jonah in the Bible was swallowed by a great fish? The same reason why we have a God versus Satan?

    Both fell out of God’s grace and were punished,
    Or one thought themselves equal in status to God!
    Who is next to be swallowed up?

    Do we have Method Politicians who improv?
    I guess being a Buddha Head doesn’t mean one
    is Buddhist. My bad!

    Native Hawaiians were considered Pagans with their
    belief in many Gods. Missionaries surely put a stop to that and many Native Hawaiians died by disease
    brought by the Haole Missionaries.
    I may be Nisei but in Japan I am a Gaijin or Haole. Doesn’t change its meaning but I agree. I am a Haole here and a Gaijin there.

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