Hawaii conservatives to stage first ever GOP presidential caucus in Obama's home state

Hawaii's first ever Republican presidential caucus will be a vote of no-confidence in Obama's home state. Photo: Daniel de Gracia

HAWAII, March 6, 2012—The Aloha State will see its first ever Republican presidential caucus in one week and local conservatives are already motivated and anxious to cast their votes for what may very well be the next president of the United States.

Hawaii, which has 17 proportionately awarded delegates at stake, trails the drama of today’s Super Tuesday contests but has unique significance as President Obama’s home state. Conservatives believe that the upcoming caucus, if turnout is large enough, could serve as a symbolic vote of no-confidence against the Obama Administration.

Hawaii Republican morale high, conservatives “excited”

The one word that that was on the lips of nearly every Hawaii Republican I spoke to regarding the March 13 caucus was “excited.”

“I am very excited for the upcoming caucus and I think it puts more power into the hands of voters and allows people to actually see their neighbors, friends and everybody showing up in a public place to have their vote heard,” Honolulu resident Russell McGuire said proudly.

“As for the presidential race, I have made my mind up. I’m planning on voting for the only fiscal conservative, the only one who is talking about monetary reform, which is my biggest issue – and that’s Ron Paul.”

Local entrepreneur Chris Wong was also extremely excited about the upcoming caucus. “It’s been a long time coming, I’m happy they’re actually doing it now,” he said.

“I really like Romney and I always liked Paul. I am leaning towards Romney though,” Wong continued. “I am a businessman, and I do believe even though I describe myself as a conservative that there needs to be a bit of moderate thoughts and ideals going into the national stage, especially since we have what I consider a president that is extreme left in regards to my ideals.”

“I believe we need to bring it back towards the center-right. We also need someone who has the credentials—and I’m someone who believes that actions speak louder than words—and Romney really does have the good business background that can go towards saving our economy and getting our country back on track.”

Ryan Markham, a Honolulu resident and graduate of the local William S. Richardson School of Law was equally upbeat. “This is very exciting,” he said. “It helps energize a lot of Republicans to get out their vote and support the candidate they prefer. It energizes the base a whole lot more than if we had not had this and hopefully, we’ll see a surge in Republican voting this upcoming election.”

“I was leaning pretty heavily Newt at first,” he explained. “I thought he was doing a great job in the debates hitting all the key issues, but since then I think I’m seeing Romney emerging as the frontrunner and he seems pretty wonderful. He just has a very presidential look and feel about him. I’m not 100% onboard with his policies, I think I tend to agree even with someone like Ron Paul more than Romney, but Romney is the strongest candidate against Obama, so for that reason I’m probably going to vote for him.”

Economy and jobs: Key issues to local GOP policymakers

Hawaii Republican Party Chairman David Chang says that the economy and jobs are among the top issues on the minds of Hawaii voters. “A lot of the people I’ve talked to are very concerned with the direction our country is going,” Chang said. “Our debt has ballooned astronomically and we have these policies that are really stymieing growth that our country really needs, and so the people in Hawaii definitely want a president who can put our country on the right course that can be a direct 180 from the course we’re on now.”

State Senator Sam Slom—a man who holds the rare distinction as Hawaii’s one and only Republican state senator—likewise believes that economy and jobs are critical to Hawaii and that the upcoming caucus could potentially be a driver for change.

“It’s something good to have because it’s another event to get Republicans involved,” Slom said. “We had our senatorial district meeting this past Saturday and we had probably two and a half times more people show up than before because we had representatives from each of the candidates.”

“Jobs and the economy are number one,” he continued. “We can talk about a lot of other things and they get momentary spotlights, but there are people here—many, many people—who are suffering because the cost of living in Hawaii is roughly 40% higher than the U.S. average.”

“A lot of people have been downsized, a lot of people in the private sector have lost their jobs, they’ve lost pensions, they’ve lost the ability to deal with all of these high costs, so I think people really want to hear the candidates with solutions to problems. From my standpoint, I want them to be free market, competitive solutions without tax increases. We need to improve our business and investment climate both locally and nationally, we need to get back to more manufacturing and these are the areas that are going to create jobs.”

State Representative and House Republican Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine was also strongly in favor of a GOP focused on economic reform. “I really believe Republicans can win on the economic issues alone, because they are the strongest issue area of concern,” she said.

Hawaii’s Republican presidential caucuses will begin on Tuesday, March 13 starting at 6pm.


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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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