Posted tagged ‘Republican Party’

Carlisle and GOP agree: He’s not a Republican

August 27, 2010

There’s a strange feud going on between the Hawaii Republican Party and mayoral candidate Peter Carlisle, a former Republican who quit the party when he began looking at the nonpartisan race for mayor.

After Carlisle made passing reference in a Midweek interview to a supposed GOP poll that showed him well ahead of Kirk Caldwell and Panos Prevedouros, Republican executive director Dylan Nonaka issued a harsh statement that there was no such poll, that Carlisle could have made up the numbers and that Prevedouros was the only Republican candidate.

(A subsequent Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now poll showed Carlisle with an even bigger lead than he claimed in Midweek.)

When Carlisle diminished his previous ties to the Republicans in a TV interview, it was party chairman Jonah Ka’auwai’s turn to fulminate, noting that the former prosecutor chaired two GOP conventions and emceed a major fundraiser.

Ka’auwai griped that Carlisle “never believed in the principals of our party, especially the principal of fiscal accountability.”

There’s no question that Carlisle was involved with the GOP for a couple of years and flirted with running for Congress under the party’s banner, and that there were sore feelings when he ditched the party after deciding to run for the nonpartisan office of mayor.

But you have to question the GOP’s judgment in working so hard to turn a race voters have said they want to be nonpartisan into a partisan contest — especially when its candidate is running a distant third in the polls.

You’d think the Republicans would have more important priorities, like trying to keep the governorship and congressional seat they hold or improving their pathetic numbers in the Legislature.

Enough GOP demagoguery on NYC mosque

August 19, 2010

I hope I’m not speaking too soon, but I’m glad Hawai’i Republicans — especially U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona and state chairman Jonah Ka’auwai — haven’t joined in the GOP’s Muslim bashing over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 ground zero in New York City.

After President Barack Obama supported the right of American Muslims to practice their religion just like anybody else, Republican congressional candidates around the country rolled out what AP called a “boilerplate attack” accusing Obama of being insensitive to the families of the 9/11 victims, who are divided on the issue.

It’s the worst kind of political pandering that refuses to recognize a difference between law-abiding American Muslims and radical terrorists — just as some in our country once refused to differentiate Japanese Americans from those who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Some of the most incendiary rhetoric has come from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has said among other things: ”There should be no mosque near ground zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. … America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization.”

Is he seriously suggesting that we should live under the rules of the Saudi constitution rather than the U.S. Constitution and that it’s going to destroy our civilization to practice the religious freedom our country was founded on?

If the Republicans say it’s an issue of sensitivity, why not apply that to what comes out of their mouths?

I certainly don’t expect Hawai’i Republicans to leap to Obama’s defense on the issue — even top Democrats have kept their distance — but I hope they continue to respect our state’s religious diversity and refrain from joining in the demagoguery.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg hit it right when he said that freedom of religion applies to all: “We would betray our values — and play into our enemies’ hands — if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.”

For a cool-headed look at some of issues in the mosque controversy, see this AP fact check.

Djou a true test for GOP

August 9, 2010

Republicans have had little success in Hawai’i’s big political races in the last 50 years and the few who have succeeded, such as Pat Saiki and Linda Lingle, did it by downplaying party affiliation and stressing moderation.

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is trying a different way by wearing his conservatism on his sleeve in his run for re-election to a full term against Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa.

It’ll be an interesting test of whether the mainland-style Republican brand can sell in Hawai’i even under the most favorable conditions.

Djou won the special election to fill the last few months of Neil Abercrombie’s term against a Democratic vote that was split between Hanabusa and Ed Case.

Still, the 40 percent of the vote he pulled was impressive and if he holds that in the general election, he doesn’t need that many disgruntled Case voters to get over the top.

The customary political move in this heavily Democratic state would be to moderate himself to win over Case’s constituency of moderate Democrats and independents.

But he’s done the opposite, seeking out opportunities to be visible in promoting the Tea Party line on economic stimulus, financial reform, tax breaks for the wealthy and extension of unemployment benefits — giving Democrats a clear record to shoot at.

Whether you agree with him or not, you’ve got to give Djou some credit for having the courage of his convictions.

Lingle broke new ground by winning as a Republican. If Djou pulls it off, his new ground would be winning as a Republican who unabashedly acts like one.

Do or die for Hawai’i GOP

July 26, 2010

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.

Politics by cheap attack

July 13, 2010

In a continuing attempt to discourage organized anonymous attack politics, I’ve been checking on a new group that’s popped up on Facebook called “Hawaii Residents Against Mufi.”

It’s run by an anonymous creator who goes by the alias “Anyone But Mufi” and says it’s “dedicated to preventing Mufi Hannemann from becoming Governor in 2010.”

It has 17 members, including state Republican chairman Jonah Kaauwai.

I sent the following message to the anonymous creator: “Would you please let me know your name so I can interview you about your ‘Hawaii Residents Against Mufi’ page and how you justify this anonymous character assassination that is dragging down politics in Hawai’i. How is this different from the Atomic Monkey site that the Hannemann campaign is taking heat for? If you want to take a stand, fine, but why not have the spine to back it up with your name?”

I received a response that refused to give give the creator’s name, saying, “This is strictly an opinionated page. If Mufi found out my real identity, he would bully around and make sure that no one would hire me for future employment.”

That’s the same lame excuse I used to get when I tried to track down similar anonymous anti-Hannemann sites during the 2008 mayoral race and transit referendum.

So I queried Kaauwai through the Republican Party, asking, “Could you please tell me who ‘Anyone But Mufi’ is so I can interview him? I’d also be interested to know how you justify lending your support to these anonymous attack sites that are degrading politics in Hawai’i? Is there any reason you shouldn’t be subject to the same criticism Hannemann chair Dean Okimoto got for being a fan of the Atomic Monkey group? Does your association with ‘Anyone But Mufi’ mean Neil (Abercrombie) can claim you as a supporter in the primary?”

Kaauwai didn’t answer me, but posted a query on the group asking, “Chris aren’t you the author and administrator of this group? Why have you gone anonymous?”

Kaauwai went on to post a video of himself warning that HB 444 will resurface next year unless more Republicans are elected to Legislature.

These anonymous sites reach few people, preach mostly to the converted and have yet to have much impact on the outcome of elections, but it’s a dishonorable form of politicking that warrants vigilant scrutiny.

Update: I received a reply from Jonah Kaauwai, who said he joined the group at the invitation of an individual he knew and assumed was named as the creator of the site.

He said he’s made inquiries about who created the site and why it was taken anonymous, which he considers “cowardly,” and will leave the group if the creator remains anonymous.

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