Party newcomerBy Mike Yuen
Micah Kane, a building industry advocate who's been a Republican for only six months, has been named the Hawaii GOP's executive director.
Kane's appointment illustrates the push by Linda Lingle, who nearly unseated Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano last year, to broaden the isle GOP's appeal and keep in place a de facto campaign organization.
Lingle, former Maui mayor who's now chairwoman of the state Republican Party, has said she is considering another gubernatorial bid in the 2002.
Kane, 30, a political independent until he joined the Republican Party, was one of the first to rally around Lingle's campaign -- coordinating events, working with volunteers and helping with fund-raisers.
Lingle also has named Joy Watari, executive assistant in Lingle's gubernatorial campaign, as administrative assistant.
Both Kane and Watari have been tested under the pressures of a major statewide campaign, Lingle said yesterday. "Both have the quality that when things get tough, they're unflappable," she said.
Last month, delegates to the isle GOP's state convention elected party officers with strong Lingle campaign credentials whom Lingle wanted as part of her team.
That team with Korean, Japanese, Mexican, Filipino, Hawaiian and Caucasian bloodlines reflects the ethnic diversity of Hawaii, not the white, Republican oligarchy that ruled Hawaii before statehood.
Regarding Kane, who graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1987, Lingle said: "Micah represents the future of the Republican Party -- people who are committed to Hawaii and who want to raise their children here."
She did not want "a hired gun" from outside Hawaii, Lingle said. She wanted someone who understands Hawaii and "is respected here at home."
Kane's predecessor, Jesse Yescalis, worked for the Arizona GOP and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's 1994 campaign before arriving in Hawaii. Next month, Yescalis joins the National Republican Senatorial Committee as a field representative.
Kane conceded that he does not have the national contacts that Yescalis has. But Kane will be attending a national training session next month in Philadelphia for state GOP executive directors.
Kane was government affairs liaison with the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, and he lobbied the Legislature for smaller government, lower taxes and privatization of government services. Association President Audrey Hidano, who nearly defeated Sen. Rod Tam of Pauoa in last year's Democratic primary, said, "The BIA looks forward to working with Micah on issues that might impact our industry."
Kane worked on Hidano's campaign. He also has campaigned for Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua) and Honolulu Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura, a Democrat. But it was on Lingle's gubernatorial effort that he was most active, Kane said.
The Micah Kane file:
Position: Executive director, Hawaii Republican Party
Education: Master's degree in business administration, University of Hawaii; bachelor's degree in business administration, Menlo College, Calif.; Kamehameha Schools