Political File

News, notes and anecdotes
on government and politics

Monday, May 31, 1999

Isle GOP director takes job
helping Senate candidates

Jesse Yescalis has stepped down as executive director of the isle Republican Party to join the National Republican Senatorial Committee as a field representative. Beginning in July, he will help GOP Senate candidates from eight states yet to be determined.

"I have no idea if Hawaii will be one of the states," says Yescalis, whose focus will be on financing candidates' races, including giving the candidates pointers on how to raise funds.

While based in Washington, Yescalis says, "Nine out of 10 days, I'll be in the field. It's a frequent-flier kind of job. But I'm excited. It'll be tough to leave Hawaii. Hawaii is such a beautiful place."

Yescalis, who arrived in Hawaii 1 years ago, was seen as a carpet-bagging, hired gun by Gov. Ben Cayetano and Cayetano's fellow Democrats. A native of Lancaster, Pa., Yescalis previously was political director for the Arizona GOP and was on the 1994 campaign staff of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

The Hawaii Republican Party's new chairwoman, Linda Lingle, says she expects to name the party's new executive director later this week.


Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona supported Orson Swindle's two unsuccessful runs for Congress. Now, as McCain is positioning himself for a run for the GOP presidential nomination, Swindle and several of his key supporters are returning the favor.

They've launched the "McCain 2000" effort in Hawaii, and the contact person is attorney Kitty Kamaka.

McCain and Swindle, now a federal trade commissioner, are good friends. Their bond was forged when as fighter pilots -- McCain for the Navy, Swindle for the Marine Corps -- they were prisoners in the notorious Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war.

Also backing McCain are Kamaka's husband, businessman Fred Kamaka Jr., and former House Minority Leader Gene Ward.

Out of what is now a field of 11, only one other possible GOP presidential candidate -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the son of former President Bush -- has a presence in Hawaii. House Minority Leader Barbara Marumoto and several of her House colleagues are leading the isle effort for the junior Bush, who is referred to as "Shrub" by his critics in Texas.

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