The road doesn’t get easier for the Hawai‘i GOP

Hawai‘i  Republicans need to do some careful thinking about their path forward after their devastating losses in the general election.

Failing to share in a strong GOP showing across the country, local Republicans lost the governor’s office they’d held for eight years, lost their best chance at winning a congressional seat in 20 years and scored only a minimal gain in the Legislature despite considerable effort.

Many in the party are disheartened that during eight years of the Lingle administration, with control of state patronage and the leverage it provides to groom future leaders, the party has few fresh marketable candidates.

The GOP caucus in the state House is down to eight from 19 the year before Linda Lingle was elected, and its numbers in the Senate have dropped from a high of five during the Lingle years to one.

The only potential Republican candidates with any heft are Lingle and the three who lost the big races this year — James “Duke” Aiona, Lynn Finnegan and Charles Djou.

Lingle will almost certainly run for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka’s seat in 2012 with heavy support from the national GOP as it fights to take control of the Senate, but there’s no clear way back in for Aiona, Finnegan and Djou if they have interest in trying again.

There were only a handful of legislative races where Republicans came close enough to have reasonable hope of making it over the top against entrenched Democratic incumbents next time.

The barriers are philosophical as much as practical; the GOP is unlikely to gain ground unless the local party settles sharp internal divisions over whether it should turn more moderate or conservative, and how cozy the party should get with religious groups.

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10 Comments on “The road doesn’t get easier for the Hawai‘i GOP”

  1. Kolea Says:

    Dave,

    I think the local Republicans will have a hard time coming up with a winning strategy while the irrational enthusiasms of the Tea Partiers, climate change deniers and the Religious Right grip their national party.

    With the GOP in control of the US House, I expect we will see them continue their strategy of obstruction and negativity. The incoming chairs of the respective committees appear likely to be pretty extreme. We will undoubtedly see lots of “investigative” hearings dragging Obama administration officials in front of cameras. The last time congress was controlled by Republicans, they tried to destroy the Democratic president, Bill Clinton. They DID succeed in crippling him. And those Republicans were less extreme than the current crop.

    The local GOP will inescapably be swept up by those passions. After years of control by relatively moderate Republicans, the more conservative forces are now in control. The failure this election MIGHT provide an opportunity for the moderates to regain ground–I think you see that in Willes Lee’s email, quoted in Borecca’s column. But I doubt common sense will prevail over the desire of local Republicans to participate in the passionate fights they see happening on the mainland. The pull is just too strong. Heck, even Lingle, a former moderate, got swept along by the rightwing current of the past couple of years.

    Three Cheers for Eric Ryan!

    (Well, Two Cheers. He is so personally offensive that even this Democrat can’t bring myself to give him a full 3 cheers. There’s gotta be SOME penalty for rudeness that everyone, even across partisan lines, can agree upon.)

  2. ppcc Says:

    Kolea:

    The Republicans did not try to destroy Bill Clinton, he did that all by HIMSELF. Is the president of the US, above the law that they can lie under oath without any negative consequences? Republicans had no choice but to prosecute and impeach a lying perv. I will agree with you the local GOP is gone and a new leader, not Lingle or any current GOP leader, must emerge for the Hawaii GOP to gain traction and reflect what is going on in the rest of the US except for California and Vermont.

    NOTE:
    Although the following passage discusses US politics at the national level and not the local level it does effect Hawaii, despite Hawaii’s isolation with the “real” world.

    Yes, under Clinton and a Republican controlled House and Senate, the US experienced economic prosperity yet it was Clinton who allowed Bin Laden to expand his power and reach to the point he could launch the Sept 11, 2001 attack killing thousands of Americans. In Clinton’s last years in office, Bin Laden was already known as leader of the group that murdered Americans in the USS Cole and other attacks. At the time Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda established a base in Sudaan, prior to going to Afghanistan/Pakistan border where he resides now. CIA had Bin Laden targeted and gave Bill Clinton the opportunity to take him out. It would have been messy, probably killing innocent women and children and other Saudis not associated with Al Qaeda, but they had him in US bomb sights. At that time US had, and continues to have close ties to Saudi Arabia, with the need for all of their oil, so Clinton did not want to take out Bin Laden, even though he was a known murderer, he was the son of a very prominent Saudi official, and the murders of US servicemen from the Cole and others could be directly tied to Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Had Clinton taken out Bin Laden when he had the chance, Sept 11 and the murder of thousands of Americans most likely would not have occurred. This is not arm chair quarterbacking. A known serial killer will NOT stop voluntarily and will continue to kill until stopped. Cut to Bush-2 and now he is trying to re-write history on trying to justify invading Iraq for a 2nd time because of made up stories of WMD’s. British intelligence documents that later surfaced and other information from US intelligence sources showed the WMD was made up stories by disgruntled Iraqi dissedents and used by Bush, Chaney and Rumsfeld, in conjunction with Sept 11 to create their own private war that cost vast US resources resulting in the deaths of millions, including thousands of American military personnel. Now we are with Obama and although he is not a war monger, he continues to fund military occupation in both Afghanistan and Iraq while trying to fundamentally dismantle the core principles of the US regarding capitalism, sound fiscal responsibility and instead is encouraging a nanny state based on some socialist model. It does not work. The failures of Fanny and Freddie Mac and what is happening in Greece AND California show clearly this will cause the downfall of a country or State. On top of which, during Obama’s presidency, Al-Qaeda has morphed beyond Bin Laden and now we have another leader, US born Anwar al-Awlaki, whose was behind many failed bombings but also was successful with the Ft Hood massacre of 12 Americans using the Army psychiatrist Hasan.

    This is what happens when people and groups with personal agendas get elected to office. Will see if this past 2010 elections where Republicans gained control of at least the House will help to change the negative direction the US has gone. Chris Christie said it best that elected gov’t officials need to do what is best for the country or for their State and NOT was is best for themselves to get re-elected.

  3. Richard Gozinya Says:

    No offense to the GOP but,in Hawaii, Republicans are simply irrelevant.

  4. Kolea Says:

    Consider ppcc’s comment as evidence for my thesis that local Republicans are excessively swept along by the irrational conservative movements on the mainland and unlikely to develop an outlook acceptable to many local voters.

  5. David Shapiro Says:

    Just for perspective, I think it’s a little strong to describe Bill Clinton as “crippled” or “destroyed.” When Gingrich and the Republicans took over the House in 1994, they thought they’d gridlock the government and win everything in 1996. It turned out the country hadn’t voted for gridlock, the Republicans got blamed for it and Clinton cruised to reelection. He subsequently survived the impeachment while two Republican speakers lost their jobs in the process.

    Today, his public standing is pretty much equal or better than the other three living ex-presidents and he travels about basking in the glow of having left the budget and economy in decent shape. His continuing popularity and clout in some quarters almost got his wife elected president. Hardly destroyed.

    Now we’ll see if Obama has half of Clinton’s political smarts.

  6. Kolea Says:

    Dave, I said the goal of the GOP House was to destroy him. I agree they did not succeed. They did, however, seriously cripple his administration, “tying him up in court,” so to speak.

    I have little doubt they will try the same thing with Obama. Will he give them the opening for impeachment Bill Clinton did? I doubt it. But watch for the incessant and vindictive hearings.

    Let’s check back in 9 months and see whether my prediction is borne out. As per usual, I am willing to be wrong.

  7. Michael Says:

    2012 let’s see how lingle does in her race to replace Senator Akaka. lingle will probably get in, for she was mayor for Maui and then governor for Hawaii. What do people see in her?

    hanneman? case? Out but not out and down for good. aiona? finnegan? djou? The choices will be made by Extreme busters. Baby boomers and Baby Busters will all be too old to vote seriously.

    Wonder what will happen 12/21/2012? The Mayans predict a flood of Republicans to Hawaii, thus ending the World of Democrats.

  8. Seawalker Says:

    I see Lingle as damaged goods in her future prospects for higher office. Furlough Fridays will always be her label across her forehead. Dave, you made a good point noting the decrease in Republican seats during Lingle’s tenure. Of course, it didn’t help when your Chief of Staff, Bob Awana, is out womanizing instead of doing good for your boss.

    I see Djou’s prospect as the brightest of the Republican bunch. He is bright, outspoken, and a young pup. Why do we want to elect a bunch of 50-year olds to Congress anyway? It takes years to accumulate power and seniority of a Big Dan.

    I still think that Ed Case cut a deal with Hanabusa and the Democrats by dropping out of the recent House race. Case wants in on Washington. As Djou pointed out, the Democratic machine is huge in Hawaii. Until Big Dan and Little Dan fades off into the sunset, the Democrats will always have the highest trump card playable.

  9. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea, I absolutely agree they’ll try that stuff on Obama, although it won’t be as easy to score without the personal stuff like Whitewater and Vince Foster as ammo.

  10. Jim Loomis Says:

    Right out of Mitch McConnel’s mouth:

    “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

    That sure says a lot about Republican priorities, doesn’t it!


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