Friday, January 25, 2002

Lawmaker steps up
criticism of GOP official

But members say it does not signal
a rift in the minority caucus

By Pat Omandam

Dissident Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott has stepped up his attack on Micah Kane by calling for his resignation as executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party because of "troubling behavior" on the job over the past month.

Kane responded that he will just have to deal with the situation. "You're not going to make everybody happy in this work, but you've got to do the best you can and move forward," Kane said.

McDermott (R, Foster Village), who acknowledges his actions will not help already strained relations with the Hawaii GOP, said yesterday there were three recent examples of why he believes Kane has failed in his duties as party director.

The first, he said, was when he alleged Kane showed up at a House GOP caucus meeting at the state Capitol last December to solicit tickets to the annual Lincoln Day dinner. Kane and House Republicans have repeatedly denied the allegation after McDermott raised the issue this week.

The second example was when Kane criticized the campaign of Ann Kobayashi, a candidate for the vacant Honolulu City Council seat. That was uncalled for, McDermott said.

"Rep. McDermott has always been a very honest legislator," Kobayashi said yesterday. "I appreciate the fact that he is trying to keep this race a nonpartisan race."

Finally, McDermott pointed to how Kane helped manage the City Council campaign of Republican Sam Aiona, who is under fire by Common Cause Hawaii for mailing voter absentee ballot applications with campaign material for his campaign.

"This guy is not up to the task at hand. He needs to be replaced, particularly going into an election year," McDermott said. "We need someone with integrity, and someone who will abide by the rules."

Kane said it is unfortunate McDermott feels that way. But he cannot let a single individual deter the GOP from its goal of bringing balance to Hawaii's political landscape.

"I see it as a lump in the road that we're just going to have to overcome. I don't see it as a major obstacle for us," Kane said yesterday.

"I don't except Bob to bolt from the party, but at the same time, I have a job to do right now, and I'm just going to stay on track," he said.

McDermott said he knows he is not on the best of terms with his party and does not expect any financial help from it for his congressional race this year.

Still, colleagues say his actions have not created any rift within the 19-member caucus.

"Maybe there's a personality conflict between Micah Kane and Rep. McDermott, but I don't think in any way, for one second, Bob McDermott is an outcast from the minority caucus," said state Rep. Charles Djou (R, Kaneohe-Kahaluu), minority floor leader.

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