(Jim Clark) – Well, my fellow wahines, I just concluded a two-week vacation from column-writing visiting the Aloha State. We ensconced in a very nice hotel called the Hale Koa, which was built on old Fort DeRussy right smack in the middle of Waikiki Beach.
The facility was funded by profits from military exchanges during the Viet Nam War and guests must be active duty or retired military. It is nestled in a park-like green belt between the Hilton’s Hawaiian Village and Donald Trump’s new hotel. I got a little tan and spent a lot of money, so I guess that makes me the typical tourist.
I know a lot of Incline/Crystal Bay residents head for the islands when snow falls, so I thought I would share some observations on what is transpiring politically in the 50th state.
Hawaii and Alaska were both nominated for statehood during the reign of Eisenhower the great. As usual, there was a deal between Democrats and Republicans that neither side could gain seats in the senate or house; Alaska was believed to be a Democratic stronghold while Hawaii was expected to be a GOP state.
As it turned out, they discovered oil in Alaska, so energy industry lobbyists developed a commanding Republican electorate in the state. Hawaii’s first governor, Bill Quinn, was a Republican, and the population subsequently developed maritime and other unions in Hawaii so the Aloha State became a Democratic stronghold.
Nothing is forever, however.
About a decade ago, Hawaiians elected Republican Mayor of Maui, Linda Lingle, as governor and then reelected her governor for a second term. And in 2008, Alaskans elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate to replace disgraced Republican Senator Ted Stephens.
Hawaii’s voter registration figures show Democrats outnumber Republicans 71% to 27%; however, a substantial number of voters are registered Independent, which would account for Linda Lingle’s success. Also, GOP Honolulu City Concilman Ed Djou won a special congressional election not long ago, but that was apparently the result of a split in the Democratic Party. That seat is now back in Democratic hands.
The big political headlines during our stay in Honolulu dealt with newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie’s entire staff very publicly resigning from office. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that the former congressman was not adjusting to his election as governor and that wide differences of opinion among staff had developed.
Even more significant was the headline that announced that former Governor Linda Lingle would run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Dan Akaka. Lingle was a prodigious fundraiser during her terms as governor and is likely to garner financial assistance from the Republican Senatorial Election Committee, which otherwise would not throw a lot of money into a race where the Republican stood little chance of winning.
And, in shades of Incline/Crystal Bay, there is even a Hawaiian nationalist movement comprised of an eclectic group of native Hawaiians and whites who advocate independence from the United States and establishment of a Hawaiian constitutional monarchy.
If money is political power, then Hawaii’s kingmaker is the Hawaii Association of Realtors, the largest contributor to political races. Immediately behind the realtors are labor unions of all kinds and then large corporate donors.
All in all it was a great trip. To all our lei-covered hula dancers I say “mahalo!”
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and a member of the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com)