By B.J. Reyes
Hawaii delegates at the Republican National Convention in Tampa get a share of the spotlight on Thursday as activities wrap up for the week.
Dylan Nonaka, an Iraq war veteran and former executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, was chosen to lead the delegates in the Pledge of Allegiance to start Thursday’s final session, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally accepts his party’s nomination for president.
“It is a great privilege to represent Hawaii and our long history of military service to our country. I have wanted to attend a national convention since I was four years old. Now having not only been able to attend as a delegate but also to lead the convention in pledging allegiance to our great country is an honor beyond description.”
Nonaka will be the only member of the Hawaii delegation to take the stage in Tampa, the state party said in a news release. Nonaka was a Marine with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and continues to serve as a U.S. Army Reservist with the 871st Engineer Company in Hilo.
On Wednesday night, delegates heard from speakers including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan took the stage to formally accept the GOP nomination for vice president.
Earlier in the day, activities were disrupted by disgruntled supporters of Texas Congressman and one-time presidential candidate Ron Paul.
A long stream of Paul’s backers from Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, and several other states protested the Republican National Committee’s treatment of Paul and his supporters by walking out of the convention hall with chants of, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation!”
The Paul supporters were protesting a rule change that the RNC adopted the night before in floor proceedings that would allow any future presumptive presidential nominee to disown delegates who support another candidate. The RNC refused to seat half of the delegates Ron Paul won from Maine in a dispute with that state’s party.
Paul’s supporters vehemently opposed the move because they make up the most significant presence, next to Romney’s backers, at the convention and want their voices to be acknowledged as not supporting Romney.
Hawaii had two representatives on the rules committee, delegates Jacquelyn Skaf and David Chang, the state party chairman. The Hawaii delegation supported the rules changes. Skaf was among those who supported the rule changes.
Said Skaf in an email to the Rules Committee:
I agree. Furthermore, the revised RNC rules respect each states’ right to make their own state party rules as long as the candidate who “wins” the state also “wins” the delegates. In other words, if Candidate A wins the state you cannot send delegates to elect Candidate B. Imagine the confusion and sense of voter disenfranchisement when a state thinks they have elected Candidate A only to find out later that Candidate B received the delegates! I support this rule because it makes sense to rank and file voters, folks we would like to empower to vote and stay committed to the democratic process.
Hawaii delegates cast 17 of their 20 votes for Romney on Tuesday night, with the last three going to Paul. Delegates were rewarded proportionally based on the results of the party’s statewide presidential caucus in March.
Romney won a majority of delegates with 44 percent of the vote. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won five delegates, who pledged their votes for Romney when the vote was announced Tuesday night by Erin Kealoha Fale, the delegation’s vice chairwoman.