Voters hitOrlando Corpuz is the kind of voter Democrats wanted at their gathering yesterday at Kakaako Waterfront Park.
rallies, but what
Both parties stage events, but
an official says apathy is
a cause for concern
By Treena Shapiro
"I'm kind of undecided," said the 35-year-old Aiea resident as he and his family sat under a canopy waiting for the speeches to begin. His opinions of presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush are split "50/50."
"They're both good," he said, "but I'm not too sure."
Democrats and Republicans spent the last weekend before the general election trying to sway the undecided and remind supporters to vote.
Both major parties hosted rallies yesterday, encouraging voters to mingle with politicians, learn about the parties' platforms and feast on free hamburgers.
Tucked behind a car dealership and a row of warehouses, the Republican rally at the old "Primo Garden" off Kamehameha Highway in Aiea was not as visible as the gigantic inflatables fronting Ala Moana Boulevard at the Democratic party rally.
Former California Treasurer Matt Fong encouraged Republicans to bring in more votes for Texas Gov. Bush.
"In the final week of a national campaign, everything happens at the last second, trying to put people and resources where they think they'll make a difference," Fong said.
"The fact that the Bush campaign in Austin felt that sending me here instead of other parts of the country, which I've been to for them, means that they think there's a chance that Hawaii could go for Bush."
Fong, for the the most part, preached to the converted -- some 75 politicians and party supporters -- but the attendees were encouraged to get out and spread the news about Bush
Members of both parties say the presidential election is close enough that, for once, Hawaii's four electoral votes could make a difference, should there be a tie between Bush and Gore when the polls close on the West Coast.
"If it does, I think it's a beautiful scenario, because I believe we'll carry this state, no doubt about that," said Oahu Democratic Party Chairman Jimmy Toyama.
Locally, Toyama said he is not worried about losing legislative seats to Republican candidates and is optimistic that the Democrats will regain seats in several close races.
But state GOP Chairwoman Linda Lingle believes that the hotly contested seats will fall to the GOP and does not anticipate losing any seats. "I don't see any of our incumbents in trouble," she said.
Honolulu Managing Director Ben Lee, speaking on behalf of Mayor Jeremy Harris at the Democratic Party rally, said voter apathy is a cause for concern.
Lee said he believes the party has appealed to young voters. "It's important that the young get involved, that they exercise their right to vote. If they're unhappy about decisions and policies, this is an opportunity for them to select the candidate of their choice," he said.
But young voters who showed up at the rally today will be tough to convince.
Rachel Dalipe, 20, showed up to support her employer, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, but not the Democratic Party. "I have no political parties," Dalipe said.
Although she voted two years ago and remains a registered voter, Dalipe did not vote in the primary election and said she plans to stay away from the ballot booth again tomorrow.
"I'm not really into it," she said.