Councilman meets
with GOP fund-raisers

Gabbard's talks with a national
group come on a city business trip

"I'm going to pay for the whole thing. I hadn't really planned on meeting with the NRCC when I went there but it occurred to me after I got there to give 'em a buzz." --Mike Gabbard, City councilman

City Councilman Mike Gabbard, exploring a run for Congress against Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Case, paid a visit to a Republican fund-raising group in Washington, D.C., after attending a National Association of Counties meeting last week.

"After the Council convention was finished ... I did talk briefly with them. It's really premature for me to be talking about this stuff right now. Before the election there'll be plenty of time to talk about these things," Gabbard said yesterday.

Gabbard spoke with National Republican Congressional Committee officials after he, five of his Council colleagues -- Ann Kobayashi, Nestor Garcia, Rod Tam, Romy Cachola and Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz -- and four Council staffers attended the national conference, which ran Feb. 27 to March 2.

City Council records estimate the cost of Gabbard's trip at $2,468.

Dela Cruz said expenses include hotel, air fare, food, conference fees and daily expenses. The costs are out of pocket and then reimbursed from city funds.

"I'm going to pay for the whole thing," Gabbard said. "I hadn't really planned on meeting with the NRCC when I went there, but it occurred to me after I got there to give 'em a buzz. I didn't meet with them until after the NACO convention, but I am paying for the entire trip -- all of the expenses -- out of my own pocket."

Gabbard said he is also calling on all elected city, state and federal officials and their senior staff members to pay for their own travel and other expenses on trips like national conventions.

"And that's what I'm doing from now on beginning with this Washington trip. I think it's the only way to stop potential abuse and to increase people's trust in democracy," Gabbard said. "I think too many have lost trust and it's the responsibility of leaders to do whatever we can -- that means even if it's a personal sacrifice on our part."

Getting the financial support from the National Republican Congressional Committee is apparently crucial in a congressional run.

"It's very important. They'll come in and work on races they think are winnable," said former Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott, who unsuccessfully ran against Case in 2002 for the 2nd Congressional District seat covering rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

McDermott said he also sought help from the Republican committee during the last election, but "they didn't support me."

But the committee considers Gabbard to be a viable candidate.

"We've got a good candidate in Mike Gabbard. He's proven to be able to get votes in that area. Congressman Case has cast some questionable votes," said Bo Harmon, National Republican Congressional Committee deputy communications director.

Case said this is the time of the year when both parties assess the voting records of members of Congress.

"I have voted responsibly and independently," Case said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. "My record is a moderate voting record which the Republicans will like and sometimes dislike."

Case said Gabbard's visit to the committee shows a serious consideration of jumping into the race.

"I think Mike is quite serious about running for an office other than the one he's in right now. He's obviously evaluating a race against me. I think it's a serious evaluation by him," Case said.

Harmon said it is too soon to say whether Case's race is one the committee will target.

"(Gabbard) came up and met with several officials here at the committee and within the party. ... Everyone was very impressed -- very sharp guy with a good background," Harmon said. "We won't make funding decisions for any of the campaigns until significantly closer to the election."

Case said he knows that Gabbard has been asking for campaign contributions "because people he has asked for money have told me that he has asked for money, but at some point he becomes a candidate and if he's going to become a candidate, he has to file and disclose."

In 2000, Gabbard said he was going to run as a Republican against Democratic U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. But at the filing deadline, Gabbard withdrew from the race.

Gabbard, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, is the founder of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values political action committee. Gabbard said he has resigned from the committee but continues to help others with the PAC in finding candidates with similar values to run for office.

Case said he believes that Gabbard is a "single-issue candidate," but Harmon said, "I'm sure that Mr. Gabbard has a variety of issues that he talks with constituents about and will make all those important in the campaign."


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