GOP’s Ka‘auwai raises national eyebrows

Republican Chairman Jonah Ka‘auwai’s Bible-laced message to local churches attacking Mufi Hannemann and calling James “Duke” Aiona the only “righteous” candidate for governor is getting play in mainland publications, including the Huffington Post, thanks to an excellent report by AP’s Herbert Sample that smoked anything appearing locally on the story.

Ka‘auwai also got himself and Hawai‘i unflattering national attention when MSNBC’s Keith Olberman named him the day’s “worst person.”

Olberman took particular aim at Ka‘auwai’s contention that Aiona would be Hawai‘i’s first “righteous leader” since Lili‘uokalani, calling it an anti-Semitic slap at our current Jewish governor, Linda Lingle.

I thought the charge of anti-Semitism was a stretch. Ka‘auwai wasn’t just putting down Lingle, but every previous Democratic and Republican governor in Hawai‘i, most of whom were Christian.

It’s getting difficult to pin down whether the local GOP is standing behind Ka‘auwai’s statement or not.

Aiona has criticized it as divisive, and when I asked Ka‘auwai a couple of days ago about the “righteous leader” assertion, he said, “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.”

But in a subsequent interview with KITV, he defended it as effective in reaching the conservative Christian audience it was aimed at.

And GOP executive director Dylan Nonaka told KITV that despite Aiona’s attempt to distance himself,  “Obviously, it would not have been done if there wasn’t some benefit.”

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22 Comments on “GOP’s Ka‘auwai raises national eyebrows”

  1. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    A year ago Hawai’i was the laughing stock of the nation with 17 Furlough Fridays in public education. Now Ka’auwai makes us look like a bunch of American Taleban.

    With airline tickets to Hawai’i soaring in the midst of a tough recession, visitors are likely re-examining vacation plans. Statistics that suggest we can’t get our budget act together in our schools discourage business growth and investment in the islands.

    And, radical extremist intolerance runs counter to the spirit of aloha, which is one of our strongest marketing points.

    Ka’auwai even makes matters worse in his defense of the initial release, as if a privately circulated memo would have somehow been acceptable.

    One must ask … with this attitude, what does Ka’auwai really say when the cameras aren’t rolling and the public is unable to hear? Humm???

    This explains in part why Americans are shunning the Republican party – an ideology that has lost its way.


  2. charles Says:

    More hackles than eyebrows were raised.

  3. Andy Woerner Says:

    Aside from the obvious ignorance of Ka’auwai’s statement, it also demonstrates an ignorance of Hawaii’s election history.

    If you look at the election results from ’04, ’06, and ’08, you’ll find that there were only 3 winning Republicans (Lingle, Gabbard, and Awana) who had any primary challengers at all, and each of them won their primary elections by landslide victories.

    Choosing the Republican ballot may make a statement, but it’s clearly a waste of what little political power Republicans have in Hawaii.

    Like it or not, most of our elections are decided in the primary by voters who choose the Democratic ballot.

    Republicans will almost certainly have a chance to vote for Aiona in the general election, but if they are smart, they’ll use the primary election to help decide between Abercrombie and Hanemann… regardless of which one they prefer as a second choice to Aiona.

    Andy Woerner
    Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate
    Election Reform – Term Limits – Balanced Budget

  4. WooWoo Says:

    Kauuwai was asking, as a fellow member of the christian community, that christians not vote for Mufi. Sure he was heavy on the bible references, but he was addressing a specific audience and trying to demonstrate his fluency in the language of Christianity.

    To make an analogy, he was trying to paint Mufi as a guy showing up at a Hawaiian group and asking for their support by using rookie words like aloha and ohana. Kaauwai was trying to show that he could fully speak Hawaiian.

    Ultimately, I do think that he made an error in being so explicit in his support of Aiona prior to the primary. Yes, John Carroll will only collect 4 votes, but as the GOP head Kaauwai needs to respect the process. He could have sent the anti-Mufi missive without mentioning Duke. It wouldn’t have been as effective, but it would have been the right thing to do given his position.

  5. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    Related to our education discussion yesterday, The Garden Island (Kaua’i) reported that as UH kicks off its 2010 football season against the USC Trojans, for every sack the Warriors’ defense inflicts on an opposing quarterback, McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawai’i will contribute $500 to the UH Athletics Department as part of this year’s Super Sack Big Mac promotion.

    While I’m happy to see McDonald’s support UH athletics, how about some balance here?

    How about $500 to the specific public school for every student who Aces their proficiency exams this year?

    How come we can’t apply these promotional incentives to the classroom? UH sports are great entertainment. Yet our keiki’s performance in the classroom will determine America’s future success.

    Think about it!


  6. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha WooWoo ~
    You wrote, Kauuwai was asking, as a fellow member of the christian community, that christians not vote for Mufi. Sure he was heavy on the bible references, but he was addressing a specific audience and trying to demonstrate his fluency in the language of Christianity.

    Mormons are Christian as well. Their doctrine is based on the commandments of Jesus. Ka’auwai was not asking Christians to avoid Mufi – he was asserting that they (Ka’auwai and Aiona) carry the TRUE banner of Christianity.

    Ka’auwai wrote:

    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!

    How dare Ka’auwai claim Aiona has the authority of Jesus. I know Jesus … and, Ka’auwai is no spokesman for Jesus.

    We all recognize Jesus is capable of speaking for himself. Ka’auwai’s comments demonstrate that he isn’t fluent in Christianity but is intolerant, arrogant and deceitful.

    As Aiona didn’t ask him to step down as party chair, we can safely conclude Aiona is an opportunist grasping at straws in a futile attempt to win the hearts and minds of voters.


  7. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Woowoo, I understand using the vernacular, but calling him the “first righteous leader since Liliuokalani?” That’s going overboard, plain and simple.

    BTW, when I first typed the word “plain” it came out “palin.” Maybe my fingers are trying to tell me something!

  8. WooWoo Says:


    Yeah, I think he went overboard too with that particular sentence.

  9. HaleiwaJoe Says:

    OK. Did Jonah decide that Mufi was “unrighteous” before or after the Star-Advertiser poll showing that Hannemann had a better shot at defeating Aiona?

    Memo to Jonah: Thou shalt not act as enabler for the liberal satanists and secular humanists plotting to seize power through the vehicle of the Abercrombie candidacy!

    Repent and you will be forgiven

  10. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    What is it with these so-called Christians? Ain’t my flavor at all.

    Why would anyone choose Aiona over Hannemann? If it comes down to choosing betweem Duke or Mufi, please select Jim Brewer, the Green Party candidate.

    The Big Shift to the Right on all kinds of social & economic issues over the next two years is going to weaken, if not destroy altogether, the United States of America. By the time average folks wake up to acknowledge what they’ve bought, this country will have gone beyond the point of no return.

    Fortunately, Hawai`i is geographically a lomg way away from where the mobs will be tracking through the streets burning & looting. Unfortunately, Hawai`i is geographically a long way away from necessities such as food & fuel. We’ll experience the riots as well, but maybe some folks will survive.

    Maybe it’s time to seriously consider a new form of governance here.

    The mnre I read the national press, the more I am discouraged about the future of this country. I hope that, before this country is destroyed both physically as well as politically & economically, I will have punched out my time card.

    Have a great day.

    And Scott, there are programs which reward public school students as individually as well as collectively. Why not create one and then go market it to one of the fast food places? Even something as simple as a report card or a good grade on an exam or paper could pay off with a reward.

    There’s a cheering payoff in The Stan sponsored by First Hawaiian Bank – hit a particular level yelling RAIN BOWS on their cheer meter and they pay into the Athletic Fund as well.

    Go Warriors!! Am off to a tailgate prep session and then to do some research at the Capitol for a few hours before heading on back to Aloha Stadium. See you around 10 pm.

  11. Michael Says:

    Jesus said:
    “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”

    Jonah being who he is put his foot in a great fish.
    Only time will tell when he is swallowed up.

  12. hipoli Says:

    Coming soon to a polling booth near you:

    Bible-Zombies Take Over Hawaii.

    Scary Sh$t. But real, for sure. I ask again, what the hell is going on in Hawaii that the New Hopes, etc. are gaining in such social and political popularity?

  13. David Shapiro Says:

    Jonah’s belief that his ministry is politics should be of no surprise to those who elected him Republican chair. Excerpt from a letter he sent to potential supporters when he ran in 2009:

    ​I wanted to take this opportunity to let you all know that I will be running for the Chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, which is a 2-year voluntary term in which I must be elected. You know my faith, Shari and I turned to prayer to hear from God, to be under His covering and His will before taking this step of faith that would impact our family and our lives. God gave me specific scripture: Hebrews 5; Jeremiah 3; and 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 which all cumulated to, my purpose, and in what manner I will be of service to Him. God imparted that my ministry is politics and He wants His followers to storm the kingdoms of the world sharing His love and light preserving His precious lost ones until they choose Him. From a very young age, God had designed my heart to care for the ‘aina and its people. I cannot stand by and allow the world to impose its values on me but rather dutifully share His values with the world for them to choose. If God is guiding our steps and Shari and I are seeking Him and His righteous, then the miraculous is expected.

    While in prayer, “For Seven Generations” is the vision God gave me. For everything we do, for all the decisions we make, we must realize the effect (negative or positive), that will impact future generations. Imagine if the bar was raised and all politicians find themselves conducting public service with love, hope, selflessness and righteousness! What if God sets the standard so that no matter what political party you are affiliated with, the greatest priority is the health and well-being people and the ‘aina?

  14. Michael Says:

    “Bible-Zombies Take Over Hawaii.”

    Tell that to Native Hawaiians who died when missionaries came over. Native Hawaiian died of
    diseases unknown to them. I guess Jonah wasn’t the only one who got swallowed up, foot first.

  15. Kolea Says:

    I’m not a Christian. But from the outside, as a student of intellectual history, I think it is problematic to say that Mormons are Christians as Scott Goold has done.

    I am not a big fan of sectarian squabbling over “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” etc. But words have to have meaning. If I use the word “tree,” we can probably dispassionately put our heads together and come up with criteria for evaluating whether something belongs within the category “tree.”

    We can also agree that we get uncomfortable talking about other people’s religious beliefs. And have developed a HEALTHY skepticism of religious orthodoxy because of the history of schism and religious persecution throughout Christian history.

    If someone wants to say they are a “Christian,” who am I to challenge them on that? Live and let live. We have no need for a Spanish Inquisition here.

    Nowadays, Mormons are on a PR campaign to be accepted as “Christians.” I can see the value in that for them. Heck, the Unification Church has been on the same path. But then, the leaders of the Unification Church are Korean, while the Mormons are white folks, just like “regular Americans.”

    When Mormons say they are Christian, there is an unspoken corrolary of that, which continues to say, “But you aren’t.” Mormonism has as a core belief that the Church of Jesus Christ disappeared from Europe and the Middle East, travelled to North America and then died out again, only to be restored by Joseph Smith when he found the Golden Tablets of the Angel Moroni.

    So from the Mormon persepective, they ARE Christians, but Catholics, followers of Luther and Calvin, etc., ARE not. In addition, there are fundamental beliefs held by all Christians regarding the divinity of Christ. Many of these beliefs have been watered down by everyday Christians, particularly in liberal Protestant denominations. But they have not been repudiated doctrinally by the leaders of those denominations. Mormonism, in its core doctrinal beliefs, repudiates essential Christian theological positions. In past centuries, such disagreements would have resulted in excommunication and condemnation for heresy. The Arians and Cathars, for example, split off from Christianity and did not form denominations within it. Their ideas were no more unorthodox than those of today’s Mormons.

    Rather than rambling on, let me point folks to an intelligent discussion of the question by noted conservative Catholic intellectual, the late Richard John Neuhaus:

    What do we mean when we use the word “Christian”?

  16. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I don’t know…seems to me that invoking Jesus on political matters is akin to thanking Jesus after scoring a touchdown. Just sort of dumbs down the whole Jesus concept so to speak.

  17. waialuahaole Says:

    From Jonah’s 2009 letter:
    “Imagine if the bar was raised and all politicians find themselves conducting public service with love, hope, selflessness and righteousness! What if God sets the standard so that no matter what political party you are affiliated with, the greatest priority is the health and well-being people and the ‘aina?”

    Thanks, Dave, for sharing this excerpt which demonstrates Kaauwai’s point of view, which is really hard to argue against.

    Let’s hope his hope for Hawaii is borne out in reality.

  18. Michael Says:

    If Jesus was not born, then there would be no Christianity. No United States of America. No Pilgrims to sail from England in protest of religious beliefs. What if? No “Anno Domini..(The time from the Birth of Jesus Christ)..” No BC.

    The whole religious belief is not about Jesus. It is mainly about God. God has been here since the beginning of Time. Christians forget who the real leader is. Jesus is just a Prophet of God. Like Muhammad also a Prophet. A Prophet means one who is worthy to carry and preach the word of God.

  19. LINDA KATO Says:

    Hi Dave,

    Off topic: A belated Happy Birthday to you. Hope you had a great day yesterday.


    Your fan,


  20. shaftalley Says:

    i think that many ultra-liberals also have a “religion”.the authoritarian state of progressivism.these are the folks who “declare to the world” that there is no limit for the ability of certain “enlightened” people to govern others.and then there are the ultra-conservatives who worship a state-management of our culture,nation-building and warfare.and also their belief in the ability of certain “enlightened” people to govern others.the leftists/rightists will push for the welfare/warfare empire.

  21. JohnKSmith Says:

    I was driving through Manoa last night when a pale gnome-like figure (who doesn’t look like me) leapt from the shadows. He was doing cart-wheels and hollering “Thank you Jesus. Thaaank you Jeeesus!”

    If Neil wins the primary, he will partly have Jonah to thank, too. Mufi’s plan was to pull all those non-Democrat Christians into the Democrat Primary. If the latest from GOP HQ is true, Mufi’s plan is being thwarted.

    To make an omlet, you gotta break a few eggs. If Mufi loses, the old boy system will lose its champion. You secularists are too self-centered to see that Jonah has taken a big risk here in order to free Hawaii from the machine. You need to get a sense of humor about this stuff.

  22. shaftalley Says:

    people that refuse to watch FOX news should also consider the same for MSNBC.this network(along with nbc,cnbc)is owned by GE Capital, a wholly owned subsidiary of the world famous mega-merchant of death GE.and it looks like GE Capital is set to receive a $139 billion gov’t. loan other words,MSNBC shills for obama and gets bailed looks like all these networks should be blocked to protect the kids.

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