comscore 2010 election was big lesson for local GOP | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | On Politics

2010 election was big lesson for local GOP


Let’s just say you had a fellow so popular that when he ran for office, he won every one of the 368 precincts in your state. Not just won the district, but down to the precinct level — he won them all.

And this fellow came back two years later and says, "Please vote for my buddies." Is this going to help or hurt?

That is what happened Tuesday. President Barack Obama, a local guy that Hawaii adores, asked voters to support former Congressman Neil Abercrombie and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

The results left GOP challenger Rep. Charles Djou stunned and GOP Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona in tears. Hanabusa beat Djou by 6 percentage points and Abercrombie bettered Aiona by 17 percentage points.

That is a combined licking bad enough to make Hawaii’s Republicans not want to venture out at night. This was a major systems collapse. Afterward, outgoing GOP Gov. Linda Lingle said Hawaii was going backwards.

If the Hawaii Republican Party didn’t go backwards, it is only because when you are irrelevant, movement is not measurable.

Besides ignoring the Obama factor, what else did the GOP do wrong?

It is now obvious that relying on just a portion of a group of voters is not going to win you a majority. In other words, in a multicultural, multireligion state like Hawaii, basing your vote on the faith-based Christian community is not going to win it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Hawaii’s U.S. House membership in 2011 will be 100 percent Buddhist. And our current governor is Jewish.

In this election, "Christian" turned out to be an adjective, not a voting block — certainly not one that would tip an election.

State Sen. Fred Hemmings, one of the true gentlemen of the GOP, who steps down this year, says, "As much as I believe in a higher power, I don’t think it is an asset in an election."

"People are going to vote their own best interests," said Hemmings.

With the big defeats, there is a tad of optimism glowing in the state Senate where Sam Slom is the lone Republican. He plans a communications onslaught to give a view different from the majority.

Talking is always better than name-calling, and if the Hawaii GOP can learn that, then they can start rebuilding.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Reach him at


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