Leader vows GOP 'hurricane'
POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2009
|This story has been corrected. See below.|
WAIKOLOA, HAWAII » Dissatisfied with the state of their organization, the Hawaii Republican Party yesterday chose as their new chairman a 36-year-old government worker who promised to energize the party with new members and greater political success.
Meeting at their annual convention on the Big Island, party members elected Jonah Kaauwai as chairman for the next two years. Kaauwai was a deputy chief of staff for Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona until a few months ago and now works for the state Department of Public Safety.
Kaauwai defeated Honolulu businessman Mike Palcic and Paul Smith, the head of a grassroots group called the Hawaii Republican Assembly. The vote tally was not announced. Two other candidates, Robert Kessler and Jimmy Kuroiwa, dropped out. “;I am resolute, I am unwavering, when I say the future of Hawaii's children ... depends upon the success and strength of a re-energized Hawaii Republican Party,”; Kaauwai said.
The state GOP faces some high hurdles over the next two years. Republicans hold only eight of the Legislature's 76 seats.
Gov. Linda Lingle will leave office after next year. Aiona is the lone GOP candidate seeking his party's nomination and is widely considered to be an underdog to the only Democrat now vying for his party's nod, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie.
In his address to the gathering, Kaauwai promised that a “;Republican hurricane is coming.”;
“;I'm ready and willing to push this party forward and get Republican candidates elected,”; he added.
Kaauwai said he would create a “;world class”; effort to get the party's message out and respond to Democrats. That message, he added, is centered around values that he claimed are “;under attack by the liberals.”;
He said he wants the state party to welcome all viewpoints on contentious issues, even if he personally disagrees with them.
Some critics have worried aloud that Kaauwai, who has strong religious beliefs, would push the party too far to the right ideologically and make it less attractive to moderate voters.
But in an interview, Kaauwai said he would not personally press for changes in the state party's platform next year.
“;That's not my role as the leader of the Republican Party,”; he said.
Friday, May 29, 2009
William Quinn was the first Republican elected governor of Hawaii since statehood. This story originally said Linda Lingle was.