THE STATE OF ALOHA

The Maui News - - TODAY’S PEOPLE - Ben Lowen­thal is a trial and ap­pel­late lawyer who grew up on Maui. His email is 808sta­te­o­faloha@gmail.com. “The State of Aloha” al­ter­nates Fri­days with Sarah Rup­penthal’s “Neigh­bors.”

Two weeks ago I wrote about our gov­er­nor’s race, which is al­ready get­ting pretty public for the Demo­cratic Party.

Our in­cum­bent, Gov. David Ige, has made no bones about it: He’s seek­ing re-elec­tion. And this time he’s fac­ing for­mer Hawaii Se­nate Pres­i­dent and peren­nial can­di­date Con­gress­woman Colleen Hanabusa. That’s surely go­ing to be a watch­able race for junkies of pol­i­tics.

The Repub­li­can side has not been as vis­i­ble (at least in main­stream me­dia). I wrote that House Mi­nor­ity leader An­dria Tupola is the only can­di­date who will face off against the vic­tor of the what is ex­pected to be rough IgeHanabusa pri­mary.

That’s where I went wrong. An­other Repub­li­can can­di­date is run­ning. His name is John Car­roll. Car­roll is a peren­nial GOP can­di­date. He’s been run­ning as a Repub­li­can since the 1960s.

This is the 87-year-old’s third shot at the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice. He ran for the U.S. House, the U.S. Se­nate (his last race was against Sen. Brian Schatz in 2016, and al­though he won his party’s nom­i­na­tion he was trounced in the gen­eral), the Honolulu City Coun­cil and the state Leg­is­la­ture. The only time he’s won was in the 1970s as a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive and later a state sen­a­tor.

Car­roll says he wants to help busi­nesses save money. His cam­paign ma­te­rial fo­cuses pri­mar­ily on the high cost of liv­ing in the is­lands and pledges to make se­ri­ous changes. His public state­ments from cam­paigns past fo­cus on no new taxes, less reg­u­la­tions of cor­po­ra­tions and less in­ter­na­tional in­volve­ment.

His fa­vorite is­sue seems to be get­ting Hawaii ex­empted from the Jones Act — a piece of leg­is­la­tion from the days of Woodrow Wil­son that re­quires that ships car­ry­ing goods and pas­sen­gers from one port in the United States to the other be made, crewed and owned by Amer­i­can com­pa­nies and peo­ple. The irony in all of this is that the leg­is­la­tion comes from a pro­tec­tion­ist, “Amer­ica First” pol­icy.

His mes­sage hasn’t seemed to have re­ally changed over the years so per­haps he’s bank­ing on a change of heart in the peo­ple. Per­haps we are fi­nally ready to ac­cept his truths in the gen­eral elec­tion.

But not with­out a fight.

Tupola wants to sym­bol­ize a different Repub­li­can Party. And she wants the Hawaii

GOP to change. It’s easy to see why.

In 2016, when a Re­al­tor-turned-re­al­ity-tele­vi­sion-star be­came the nom­i­nee of the Repub­li­can Party, the Hawaii GOP held its con­ven­tion in Waipahu.

Then-House Mi­nor­ity Leader Beth Fuku­moto — a young, ris­ing star for the right — took the stage and voiced her con­cerns about some of the racist and sex­ist mes­sages from the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign trail. She urged the Hawaii GOP to “use a different tone and sound like we are from Hawaii.” After all, “Hawaii is not Texas, and we are never go­ing to be.”

It didn’t go over well. The crowd yelled at her and told her to re­sign. They called her a “RINO” (a Repub­li­can in name only). They pre­ferred the rous­ing speech of state Sen. Sam Slom, who wanted to “take it to the Democrats” that year.

Sure enough, the Repub­li­cans took Congress and the White House, but faired very, very poorly here in the is­lands. Slom ended up los­ing his seat in the Se­nate so now there are no more Repub­li­cans in that cham­ber.

Fuku­moto, in the mean­time, won her seat and at­tended the national Women’s March on Oahu, held the day after the pres­i­dent’s inau­gu­ra­tion. She was later stripped of her lead­er­ship in the House by the mem­bers of her party. That’s when she quit.

“Repub­li­cans in the state Leg­is­la­ture and in party lead­er­ship sought to cen­sure me for rais­ing con­cerns about the treat­ment of women and mi­nori­ties by politi­cians in power,” she wrote in a let­ter to her con­stituents last year. “They have also in­sisted that I stop work­ing across the aisle and fo­cus more on par­ti­san pol­i­tics. For these rea­sons, I am con­sid­er­ing leav­ing the Repub­li­can Party and pur­su­ing mem­ber­ship in the Demo­cratic Party.”

Tupola took her place as the House mi­nor­ity leader (of five Repub­li­cans). She said it was time for the party to be more “pos­i­tive.” Tupola her­self at­tempted to re­brand the party by run­ning as chair of the GOP, but lost. Now she’s run­ning for gov­er­nor. But still un­clear is what she wants to do, her brand of pol­i­tics, or what she would do dif­fer­ently than any other politi­cian in the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice.

Per­haps that will emerge later. After all, it’s still pretty early and this cam­paign sea­son may be a long one.

BEN LOWEN­THAL

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