HAWAII REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
Success buoys convening isle Republicans
Carlisle emcees as Gov. Lingle tallies her team's achievements
Four years ago, then gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle ran on the slogan of "A New Beginning."
Yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle gave a speech at the Hawaii Republican Party state convention that sounded like a Carpenters song -- "We've only just begun," as she rallied Republicans to get more members of the GOP into office.
"The big change that we went through is that we are now the state government," she told an audience of several hundred.
It's the first time in decades state GOP conventioneers had a sitting governor address them in the year of a gubernatorial election.
And they loved it.
"The day was fantastic," said 95-year-old Daisy Smith of Hilo, who hasn't missed a state convention since 1965. "And the governor's speech ... she's the best governor. She should stay in there because she's really done things for our islands."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
After Gov. Lingle addressed the state Republican convention, balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling onto the stage and a cheering crowd.
Chants of "four more years" reverberated in the ballroom at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel as the governor finished her speech to thunderous cheers and falling red, white and blue balloons.
It was also a convention that saw nonpartisan city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle come out as a proud Republican emceeing yesterday's speeches.
Lingle gave her party what it wanted, rattling off a laundry list of accomplishments she and her Republican administration were laying claim to, including a get-tough approach on crime and drugs, getting more native Hawaiians on Hawaiian home lands, and helping the mentally ill and the homeless.
"You gave us a chance to get our economy back on track, to turn a quarter-billion-dollar deficit into a $700 million surplus," Lingle told a cheering crowd.
Lingle said she's not finished with her vision, vowing to continue efforts to reform education and not completely abandoning setting up local school boards.
"It simply means I'm waiting for you to give us some more Republicans in the House and in the Senate," she said of the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Sam Aiona said that while the goal is to get the governor re-elected, she undoubtedly will play a role in getting other Republicans elected.
"I think Governor Lingle's leadership and vision are going to carry this party throughout the election," Aiona said.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Delegates at the Hawaii Republican Party state convention cheered Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona yesterday as he walked toward the stage at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel to speak. Gov. Linda Lingle urged supporters to get more Republicans elected to the Legislature.
First-time convention delegate Michael Peters also hopes so.
Peters is a candidate for the 23rd House District held by Republican Anne Stevens, who was appointed to the seat by Lingle after Galen Fox, who was convicted of a federal sexual misconduct charge, resigned.
"I think that all of us in the party know the governor needs more Republican House members and Senate members and I think people are really going to focus in on the important concept of a two-party system," Peters said.
Congressional candidates Bob Hogue and Quentin Kawananakoa appeared at the convention, also hoping to catch the rejuvenated GOP wave to face one of nine Democratic candidates in November for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Ed Case.
"The good guys begin at Washington Place ... with the best good guy, Gov. Linda Lingle," Hogue howled, jumping on his "good guys" campaign theme.
"The grand prize of this year's election cycle is the race for the 2nd Congressional District," Kawananakoa said.
Rudy, a 35-year-old Honolulu man who would give only his first name, agreed that the biggest assistance local Republicans will get this fall will be from Lingle, but the greatest disadvantage will be falling approval ratings for President Bush.
"I think the war is creating problems for the party at this point. Unfortunately, I think that is what is going to translate (at the polls) rather than anything else," Rudy said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.