Hawaii GOP
targets state House

At the state convention, Lingle
calls for wider participation
in a government "renaissance"

WAIKOLOA, Hawaii >> Republicans, still celebrating last year's victory in the governor's race, are looking to win more state House seats in 2004.

Speaking to delegates at the Hawaii Republican Party convention, Gov. Linda Lingle said the "renaissance" of the Hawaii state government will go on under Republican leadership, but more people have to be asked to join it.

"When you go home to talk to others, don't say, 'Wasn't that a great convention?'" Lingle told the delegates. "Who can resist being a part of the renaissance of the state of Hawaii?"

Republican National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich further outlined the party's strategy in the 2004 election.

The focus will be on the state House of Representatives and voting records of the Democratic members, she said.

"We will train and activate our district organizations. We will identify and we will register our voters," she said.

Lingle outlined the party's successes in the past four years, from 12 Republican state representatives to 15, from two state senators to five, and from one mayor to three.

She listed her accomplishments in office such as state contracting reform, easing of animal quarantine restrictions, payment of funds due to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and inclusion of mental illness in health insurance coverage.

Her disappointments included the Legislature's refusal to allow voters to decide on creating local school boards and the failure of tax reform. The Wall Street Journal lists Hawaii as the sixth worst in the nation in terms of poor people paying the heaviest tax burden, she said.

A campaign contribution reporting loophole needs to be closed, in which donors, instead of giving money to a candidate, give money to the candidate's business, Lingle said.

The Legislature failed to pass an anti-bribery bill and a bill that would take away retirement and other benefits from public officials who are convicted of stealing public money, she said.

Sen. Fred Hemmings gave his own wish list, including sale of excess state lands and ending the state Land Use, Water and Public Utilities commissions.

House Republican leader Galen Fox said party members will defeat Democratic candidates in 2004 by reminding voters of their records. An example was those who voted against a "three strikes and you're out" crime sentencing bill.

"We're going to go out and beat them with that issue," he said.

But Big Island Mayor Harry Kim, a nominal Republican who tends more toward nonpartisanship, warned against excesses. "The vast majority of people don't care if we're Democrat or Republican or Green," he said. "They just want us to be good people."


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