Council candidate and former state Rep. Charles Djou, left, joined Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle yesterday after the Republican Party Unity Gathering event held at Lingle's campaign headquarters.

Young Republicans
spin their own
House music

A quest for new faces translates
at the polls to 61 GOP candidates
in the general election

By Rod Antone

Former state Rep. Charles Djou was one of the original "young Republican freshmen" who ran for office in 1998.

The GOP's plan was to introduce fresh faces to voters to counter the "old-boy network" of the Democratic Party. The plan, according to Djou, has been working: The party now has 19 seats in the state House and three in the Senate.

"Things are going well for us because our message of change is resonating with the voters," said Djou at the Hawaii Republican Party Unity Gathering held yesterday at Linda Lingle headquarters. "I see the party (candidates) getting younger and having more diversity.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle, shook hands with state House hopeful Carol Philips yesterday before the Republican unity gathering at Lingle's campaign headquarters.

"But the most important thing is, it's getting bigger."

The ranks of Republicans swelled this year with 87 candidates in the primary election Saturday, 61 of whom move on to the general election.

Among those riding the GOP wave into November will be professional bodyboarder Carol Philips, who is running for House District 46 on the North Shore.

"After years of organizing surfing events, I started becoming more aware of the political climate in Hawaii, and I knew that I had to get involved," said Philips. "To paddle out there, I guess you could say."

Philips, 36, joins several other young Republican faces making their debut in politics this year as the party tries to gain a majority of the House seats.

Candidates in the 30-ish GOP crowd also included Brad Sakamoto, 31, a 1988 Iolani graduate who is up against former television reporter Glenn Wakai, 35, for the Salt Lake-Moanalua seat.

"I told Glenn when I first met him that he'd better win the primary because someone from our generation has to win," said Sakamoto. "A lot of my friends don't even live here anymore; they live in Seattle or Portland because they can't make a living here or they want something better for their kids ... and that's just wrong.

Kaili Kane, 5, daughter of GOP state Chairman Micah Kane, greeted Auntie Linda after her speech at the event.

"Somebody asked me, how can I afford to get involved? And my answer to that is, how can we afford not to get involved?"

Republican Lynn Berbano Finnegan, a 31-year-old mortgage loan officer, said her decision to run for state House District 32 (Foster Village-Mapunapuna) was based upon a simple realization.

"What it comes down to is, it's your state, your economy," she said. "It was a really hard decision to make, but it's definitely one I feel great about making, and I'm definitely ready."

Gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle received a standing ovation yesterday after she quoted the enemy. Lingle cited defeated Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Case as saying that things in Hawaii will remain status quo because his opponent in the primary, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, had no plan for the state.

"Ed Case is right. Things won't change," Lingle shouted as the applause swelled. "She has no plan."

Sharing a laugh, were state Reps. Colleen Meyer and Bud Stonebraker and Council candidate Charles Djou.

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