Spin Zone: Where Hawaii’s leaders face off

January, 2007

Q: The Democrats have long been Hawaii’s majority party. Why, then, was it so difficult for the Dems to field a competitive gubernatorial candidate?

A: With their deep concern for increasing opportunity and advancement for all the people of Hawaii, Randy Iwase and Malama Solomon represented a return to our Democratic roots, with an eye to the future. They articulated our party’s vision of a just and prosperous Hawaii. We fell short because we faced a popular incumbent who had the resources to mount a very aggressive campaign.

Our party has been facing a strengthened opposition, and we need to go back to using basic Democratic ideals to meet today’s challenges. Most people in Hawaii still support our party’s values. We need to focus on policy, principles and results, rather than politics and power. We must both remember and redefine what our party stands for as we move toward our future. With our party’s overwhelming majority in the Legislature, we have the responsibility to create new policies for all of Hawaii. Our agenda is to create a Hawaii that our children can choose to call home, and to grow Hawaii’s middle class. Our leaders must think of themselves as stewards and not power brokers. They should take risks, admit mistakes and govern with grace, dignity and respect for all. This is how we will develop new leaders for the future. Working together we can do better.While it is true that the Democratic Party has been the majority party in Hawaii for decades, single-party rule could not and should not go on forever. The give and take that comes with competition between political parties is necessary for the best ideas to come forward and the best policies to be implemented. Perhaps my generation has taken too much for granted, because those who came before us were extremely successful at opening the doors of opportunity to a much broader spectrum of our community. As our focus has shifted over the years to maintaining our majority, we have not put enough energy into growing new leaders within the party. This election was a wakeup call.


Q: With a Republican governor virtually unchallenged, the opportunity to pick up House and Senate seats should have been great. So why didn’t the party win over the Legislature?

A: As the minority in the state House and Senate, Hawaii Republicans play a vital role for the people of Hawaii. The Republicans are the loyal opposition, who call into question many of the bills introduced and passed by the Democratic Party. It is often said that the role of the minority party is not to pass good bills, but to stop bad ones.

Hawaii Republicans offer many great proposals. But for purely partisan reasons, their bills are not heard. It is not uncommon for their bills to reappear the following year with a Democratic legislator’s signature and subsequently pass legislative review.

Lingle in the past four years has done a tremendous job of introducing legislation that will help the people of Hawaii, such as the repeal of taxes on food and medicine. Democratic legislators, for purely partisan reasons, rejected her proposals. Why is it so difficult to accomplish this balance in the Legislature?In order to gain more seats in our Legislature, we need to educate the public on our proposals and continue to show voters that Hawaii Republicans believe in an enabling philosophy with respect to the role government plays in their lives. We need only to point to the titular head of our Republican Party, Gov. Linda Lingle, as the best example of what this state can accomplish if we had more Republicans in office.

Republicans don’t have the unions or big businesses to run our campaigns. We don’t have the endorsements of public union heads who want to continue the status quo. We don’t have the luxury of using union dues to spread our message. We don’t have a congressional team bringing in the national party to help run our campaigns.

No one will argue that we need a two-party system in Hawaii. We need to have Republican candidates who will show the people of Hawaii that electing Republicans will benefit everyone and keep Hawaii moving forward.

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