February 24th, 2012

Hawaii Republicans had hoped that their first-ever presidential caucuses in March would draw some interest from the campaigns. So far, though, the GOP candidates have been focussed on other states.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign has announced that Paul’s oldest son, Ronnie, and campaign manager John Tate will campaign in the islands before the March 13 vote.

*Update: Matt Romney, one of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s sons, campaigned for his father in Hawaii in December. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a quick swing to the islands last summer. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann was here early last year, before she dropped out.

Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton did local news media interviews before the Democratic caucuses in 2008, and Clinton sent her daughter, Chelsea, to the islands to campaign. It was the first time that the caucuses received much attention, and helped produce record voter turnout, although still only a fraction of traditional turnout for a primary.

15 Responses to “Surrogates”

  1. Auto De Fe:

    Gingrich has campaigned here.
    Bachmann campaigned here.
    Matt Romney also campaigned here….

  2. Eric Ryan:

    This was a poorly conceived and disastrous waste of money by the Hawaii GOP. So few people will be participating in this debacle that the challenge for party leaders, if you can call them leaders, will be to make school cafeterias look as if they are not empty and make the absense of long lines of participants go unnoticed. The Hawaii GOP (a.k.a. Lingle’s campaign eunechs) will sadly renew its status as a laughingstock both locally and nationally. It has been 15 months since the last election ad local voters STILL haver not been given one reason to vote for local GOP candidates OR against Democrats.

  3. Teddy Freddy:


  4. Kolea:

    I am not sure the cafeterias will be empty. I know some progressives have been attracted to Ron Paul’s strong positions against military intervention, in defense of civil liberties and his call for ending The War on Drugs. They intend to become “Republicans for a Day” and vote for Paul. I doubt that will amount to much more than a trickle, however.

    What’s not to like about Santorum, Romney or Gingrich? Don’t people see any of these candidates are as capable of generating a “Santorumania,” “Romneymania” or “Newtmania” at LEAST as powerful as the “Obamamania which flooded the Democratic caucuses in 2008.

    “Build it and they will come!”

    It was a master stroke of genius for the Hawaii Republicans to realize they could generate the same level of excitement if they copied the Democrats. “Republicans, a pale imitation of Democrats.”

  5. Kolea:

    @Eric Ryan,

    If there is a low turnout at the Republican caucuses, how is that the fault of the Lingle group alone? Lingle’s people seem to have committed themselves early on to Mitt Romney. But surely the non-Lingle Republicans have an opportunity to rally around one of the other candidates? If people do not turn out for Santorum, how is that Lingle’s fault? If the Ron Paul devotees do not mobilize, doesn’t the blame fall upon THEM rather than Lingle? And someone, somewhere, must like Gingrich, though I cannot imagine how or why. If Newt has no juice among Hawaii voters, how is that Lingle’s fault?

    To their credit, the current GOP leadership is throwing open the doors to their nominating process. This is the first time Hawaii residents can have a direct say in how Republican delegates to the RNC national convention will vote. And the GOP has rented a lot of school cafeterias and meeting places spread over the island, a MAJOR change from last time, when GOP voters had only a handful of places to vote on Oahu.

    If Hawaii voters do not turn out to vote for Romney, Gingrich, Santorum or Paul, I suggest the fault lies with the pool of candidates and NOT with the Hawaii GOP leadership. They ARE trying to reach out.

  6. Eric Ryan:

    @ Whoever “Kolea” really is behind the pseudonym: Lingle/Aiona acolytes set this silly caucus in motion with newly-adopted party rules that facilitate and enable this mess. You might find that it’s helpful to know more about local politics than you see on MSNBC and No rule changes or initiatives have been possible for more than a decade without the stamp of approval from Lingle/Aiona’s #1 facilitator, Miriam Hellreich. She’s been the Hawaii GOP’s national committeewoman since before statehood (and possible before Kamehameha forcibly “united” the islands by indiscriminately killing tens of thousands of brown-skinned people who didn’t want to be ‘unified’, which came after those same Tahitian settlers of Hawaii decimated the Marquesan settlers of Hawaii . . . a sovereignty issue which has yet to be ironed out or even talked about). But that’s beside the point. Anyway, that’s how long Miriam Hellreich has been pulling the strings for her paying clients Lingle and Aiona at the Hawaii GOP. The frontman for the caucus fiasco is the ‘editor’ of the one-man online rag Hawaii Fried Press, Andrew Waldorf. Remember, if turnout is low, then the officers of the Hawaii GOP are unable to promote and run a small statewide event. What does that say about their ability to run a government? This was supposed to be a major revenue enhancer and membership drive for the party. Early indications are that it will be a flop.

  7. Justin Tyme:

    Bachmann was a Grassroot Institute guest over a year ago, before she announced as a candidate.

    Regardless, this cycle’s Hawaii presence with Paul and Romney surrogates and Gingrich, is better than four years ago. Only Kent Snyder from the Paul campaign came early in the season and Jerry Coffee, McCain’s fellow POW friend, from Hawaii were the only GOP presidential campaign presence.

    Kolea you are 100% correct that it will be up to the local campaigns to turn out their candidate’s supporters. Aside from strongly implied local establishment support for Romney, Lingle’s been pretty hands off with the presidential contest locally. Which is smart for her considering her target is not Republicans. 5,000+ turnout would be a miracle for the local party considering the poor history.

  8. Goober:

    lingle can act as the surrogate mother. To lingle a Rino in Hawaii is a unicorn.

    Seems there is one is in favor of rail. They can pay more taxes for a toy train on a table top.

  9. ohiaforest3400:

    No Biff Romney? Awww, shucks!

  10. Kolea:

    @Eric Ryan,

    You wrote:

    Remember, if turnout is low, then the officers of the Hawaii GOP are unable to promote and run a small statewide event. What does that say about their ability to run a government?

    If the precinct turnout is low and/or poorly organized, I agree that reflects poorly upon GOP Hawaii’s organizing skills as well as their strategic sense that Hawaii voters would be enthused about an opportunity to vote in their caucuses.

    But you totally sidestepped my assertion that this is not only a test of the Lingle group in control of the party apparatus. It is also a test for those of you who think you have better organizing skills. In 2008, Ron Paul had a dedicated and enthusiastic core group in Hawaii. My routine does not put me in contact with them, so I have no idea whether they have been able to mobilize support this year, beyond the progressives I mentioned. That campaign is a good vehicle for the Libertarian wing of the party. And, I suggest, will provide a test of their relative strength.

    Is Rick Santorum catching on among socially conservative voters in Hawaii? If hte turnout is low for Santorum, this will be another indicator, like the passage of civil unions and Aiona’s campaign, that religious conservatives do not have to be feared in Hawaii politics.

    And if Gingrich gets few votes, it means the pasty, pudgy, mean-spirited adulterous opportunists can also be safely ignored as well.

    Eric, I think what you fear and are trying to run away from, is that a low turnout will demonstrate how ineffective ALL wings of the local Republican networks are at appealing to Hawaii voters. Individual politicians might do OK in a few boutique districts, but otherwise, Hawaii voters reject the Republican ideology, whether articulated by you or some other wannabe strategist. Lingle is your strongest candidate, which annoys you, and her only chance of winning is if she runs AWAY FROM Republican ideology, consciously and unashamedly accepting the “RINO” label.

    If there is a low turnout, it does not just reflect badly on Miriam Hellreich, Dylan Nonaka or Andrew Walden. This is a perfect field test of YOUR thesis that the GOP can win more support in Hawaii by being more ideological. Nonsense. the current GOP presidential candidates is the most ideological field you folks have EVER run. If Hawaii’s voters do not respond to the “E Komo Mai” invitation, ALL of you look bad.

    OTOH, and you do not want to hear this, a poor showing at the caucuses may validate Lingle’s campaign strategy of running away from Republican rhetoric.

  11. Eric Ryan:

    What fear, Kolea? I’ve been bemoaning that precise ineffectiveness for a very long time. The central problem is that the only message broadcast to voters by the party itself is the candidate-oriented message from whichever candidate’s organization happens to control the party at a particular point in time. For a decade now, that’s been the Lingle/Aiona/Djou camp, which is effectively run by Miriam Hellreich. People like Hellreich (and her clients) DO NOT WANT to persuade the body politic of a better way called Republicanism or conservatism. And these same people DO NOT WANT to take the chance of being too critical of the reigning Democrats who’ve run Hawaii since statehood. They only want to control the levers of party power for advancing their narrow interests. National candidates don’t interest me or help the cause of a 2-party system in Hawaii because they are just branding themselves and their customized ideologies. The fact that the Hawaii GOP obliterated its own platform in 2009-2010 and then did nothing to even promote any specific reforms in the last election (or even since then) actually shows that the party has moved away from any ideology at all. Commercials for Lingle, or Djou, or Santorum, or Romney, or anyone else does nothing to create an environment that a well-funded, smartly run 24/7/365 communications, advertising, PR machine at Hawaii GOP headquarters would achieve. But your confusion of self-interested candidates and their operatives with actual branding and organizing to put meaning into the (R) while degrading the value of the (D) keeps you from understanding my very specific point about the endless problems caused by conflict of interest in the Hawaii GOP. The day that Hawaii Republicans organize their districts and precincts for the sake of promoting an alternate vision for our state, rather than merely trying to take over the party and use it for promoting the narrow interests of one or two candidates, is when the pendulum has a chance to shift.

  12. Goober:

    “This is a decision that should not be made by one person sitting in her office or by members of the Majority Party behind closed doors in a legislative caucus, but by all the people of Hawaii behind the curtain of the voting booth.”

    Hawaii is republican only when missionaries are resident voters. Transplants can’t vote till they live here for a length of time.

  13. Kolea:


    I think we are focussing in on a strategic difference we have over the role of a political party. In my view, you over-emphasize the importance of things like the party’s platform, the pre-eminence of its “brand” in winning the support of voters. As you say, you want “to put meaning into the (R) while degrading the value of the (D).”

    In the Democratic Party, we have idealists who put a lot of time and energy into writing very principled resolutions and platform planks on a wide range of issue. And the Party spends a lot of time debating these. It seems to go on forever. (Maybe we should take a lesson from the GOP approach and just shut down our Platform Committee like your leaders did in 2008?)

    Some of our activists think it is the Party who “owns the (D)” and we should withhold use of “the brand” from candidates unless they agree to vote consistent with the platform. I used to be sympathetic to that view. I have come to realize the (D) or the (R) “brand” has attained value (or not) mostly because of the actions of our elected officials and candidates– NOT those of party activists.

    This is a tough thing for an activist type to accept. You mean those unprincipled, careerist, opportunists who run for office and engage in behind the scenes horse-trading are more responsible for defining “Republican” or “Democrat” than guys like Eric Ryan, Kolea, the Tea Party, the Americans for Democratic Action, the Grassroot Institute, the Progressive Democrats, etc., etc., etc?

    The “brand” of the Republican Party in this period is being defined by the behavior of your most visible and important candidates. While they do not perfectly reflect the various strands within the Republican base, the four remaining candidates do provide a pretty good, if imperfect, reflection of the major groupings. So instead of trying to forge the perfect little group of GOP activists and officials to write an ideal GOP Manifesto or to launch a GOP advertising campaign to “define the brand,” that function is being served by the presidential, Lingle and, eventually, Djou campaigns.

    Not fair, not fair! You want some GOP PR dream team to have more say, presumably with you playing an oversized role? I suspect you have an exaggerated sense of the role “the party” has ever played in Hawaii politics. Most actual power and influence flows around the parties, not through it. The formal party organization is only one tool, of many, used for mobilizing voters, influencing legislation, recruiting candidates. And that role is shrinking in favor of the “independent” campaign organizations whose growth has grown massively in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. If you are smart enough and or charming enough, you may want to work at becoming a mini-Karl Rove and stop obsessing on trying impose your strategies upon GOP Hawaii.

    From THAT perspective, the March 13 precinct caucuses of the GOP will serve as a performance test of the various tendencies within the Republican Party and measure which, if any of them, having the organizing skills and message to be worthy of having influence within the local party. If they turn out their supporters, they WILL have influence. If not, then not. And if few people turn out en toto, there will be egg on the face of local Republicans. You want to assign the blame specifically to Lingle’s leadership team, based upon your past personality conflicts and jealousies. But that is bogus. All Republicans have an opportunity, and responsibility, to turn out GOP supporters for the caucuses. Again, I say it is to their credit that the Party’s leaders have made a greater effort this year to empower those who turn out and have opened many more locations at which people can vote. Taht is a pronounced break with past practice.

    At the risk of sounding insincere, let me be clear what I would like to see. (And I suspect a lot of Hawaii Democrats share my hopes on this). I want to see there be a relatively low turnout. I want the results to be divided, as i want the dysfunctional “clown show” dynamic to continue for as long as possible. The more ridiculous the GOP presidential candidates can sound as they each try to become more rightwing than the next, the weaker the “GOP brand” gets, which will undermine the credibility of the Lingle and Djou campaigns. The cherry on top will be if the Lingle GOP establishment resorts to underhanded tactics to maintain control of the local party and the delegation to Tampa, as they have done in the past, with the most obvious recent example being the way they cheated (in my view) to award the national committeeman seat to Ted Liu.

    I will admit to my bias, but SERIOUSLY, if the Inouye or Abercrombie network was as heavyhanded and abusive within the formal decisionmaking of the Democratic Party as the Lingle group has been within the GOP, we would have a civil war. I have been on the frontline of our internal fights and our sides have been much more fair than what goes on in your group.

    So continue fighting, do it in public, pull each other’s hair, call each other names, leak each other’s emails. It “degrades” the GOP “brand” much better than anything we could do. Or, you can follow my advice and honor internal democratic norms, mobilize your factions for a FAIR fight under due process. The re-unite to face your common foes. But fight clean.

  14. Eric Ryan:

    Sorry, but I don’t think much of unsolicited advice from people who are so scared that they hide behind pseudonyms.

  15. Goober:

    Should make this comment forum a chatroom. Seems discussions should be made in person.
    I doubt if anyone who comments will do well in discussion in person without Google.

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