State Republican Party sets platform, repels insurgents
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The state Republican Party introduced its candidates for state elections yesterday — 20 for the House and four for the Senate — as Gov. Linda Lingle predicted a difficult race for presidential contender John McCain.
"This is going to be one tough campaign for presidency for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because we have a candidate that actually speaks the truth for people," Lingle said during the GOP'S convention in Waikiki. "That makes it tougher to campaign because he doesn't tell people what he wants them to hear, necessarily."
Despite an internal challenge, the state party adopted its 2006 party platform, rejecting a plank condemning a bill sponsored by Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka for special native Hawaiian recognition.
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The Hawaii Republican Party adopted its 2006 party platform at its annual convention this weekend, despite a fight by a group calling for reform.
A group calling itself the Reform Republican Victory Caucus — headed by Eric Ryan, a graphic artist — criticized the state Republican Party officials for staging the convention by not allowing further discussion.
But party leaders rejected Ryan's criticism, saying there was an "overwhelming majority" to adopt the 2006 party platforms. There had been a push by some Republicans on the state platform committee to add a plank condemning a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka for special native Hawaiian recognition.
"If we get typecast into the doomsayers and the naysayers, then we're destined to fail," Sen. Fred Hemmings (R, Lanikai-Waimanalo) said yesterday. "There definitely was a contingent of people there, some of whom I've never seen before, that wanted to ride into the effort and change the party."
Party leaders, hoping to reverse its dwindling influence at the state Legislature, acknowledged the disagreements within the party and emphasized the importance of unity this year.
In a speech at the Hilton Hawaiian Village yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle called for Republicans to support U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona for president as well as local Republican hopefuls who announced their candidacy in the state elections — 20 in the House and four in the Senate so far.
While Lingle spoke with optimism about increasing the number of Republicans in the state Legislature, she hit a grimmer tone on the presidential race.
"This is going to be one tough campaign for presidency for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because we have a candidate that actually speaks the truth for people," Lingle said. "That makes it tougher to campaign because he doesn't tell people what he wants them to hear, necessarily."
Willes Lee, chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, said Republicans face several challenges in this year's election, including party infighting, with some backing U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, whose presidential bid seems unlikely at this point, although about 80 of his supporters attended the convention this weekend.
Lee also emphasized the importance of electing more Republicans to the state Legislature to encourage a two-party system. GOP members in the Legislature have dropped to 11 from 22 since 2001.
"We need to have the ability to pull bills out of the committee and get them to the floor," Lee said. "We don't see that. Our job is to have more representatives in the Legislature so we can make government more transparent."
Lee said the party is already preparing for the next midterm elections. At the convention this weekend, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona delivered a campaign-style speech for his bid for governor in 2010.