Sunday, September 19, 2004

Clayton Hee got a visit from Neil Abercrombie last night at Hee's headquarters at Honolulu Harbor. At left is Hee's wife, Lynne Waters.

Election boosts GOP

The party seeks an edge with
early Democratic struggles but
will face a promised united front

WITH several upsets in the making, Republicans are eagerly anticipating the general election, while Democrats are promising to close ranks to maintain control of the state Legislature.

The losses of Democrat incumbents Sens. Melodie Aduja and Cal Kawamoto cheered Brennon Morioka, the Republican Party chairman. Former state Sen. Clayton Hee beat Aduja, and retired vice principal Clarence Nishihara beat Kawamoto.

Primary Election 2004



"It is clear to me that people are getting tired of legislators who are taking advantage of their situation," Morioka said.

Both Kawamoto and Aduja had been fined for campaign spending violations this year and their Democratic opponents had hit hard on the issue of campaign ethics.

But Brickwood Galuteria, the Democratic Party chairman, predicted that both incumbents' districts would remain Democratic.

Galuteria added last night that the Democrats will have an important ally in the state's labor unions.

"The labor unions have worked hard to get out the vote and I know labor really wants to be involved in this election," Galuteria said.

Saying the unions "feel a sense of urgency," Galuteria promised that the Democrats and the unions would run a combined campaign and that the Democrats would go into the general election "a solid team from top to bottom."

Republicans, however, are discounting the union effect. Morioka said that in some cases a union endorsement will not help a candidate because the union members will not follow their leader's recommendation.

Last night's primary election is a harbinger for what is expected to be a full-scale political war between the GOP, led by Gov. Linda Lingle, and the Democrats, spurred on by the public employee unions.

The Democrats' urgency in this year's campaign is caused by Lingle saying she wants the GOP to win a majority in the state House and pick up seats in the Senate.

To do that, Lingle would have to take 11 Democratic seats away from the majority. While even GOP leaders privately say that is not likely, the Republicans speculate that they can take between three and five Democratic seats and give Lingle enough votes to stop a veto override. The House Republicans now hold 15 seats and need 18 to prevent the majority from overriding a veto.

Public labor unions worry that if the Democrats cannot overturn a Lingle veto, it would hurt their membership's ability to get new pay raises or extra benefits passed by a Democrat-controlled Legislature.





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