Editorial | Our View Isle GOP has big hill to climb By Star-Advertiser staff May 26, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. David Chang, the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of Hawaii, wants any members of his frustrated minority party to know: Building up a larger presence in the islands’ political landscape is a long-term project that needs to begin now, even if the rewards won’t be reaped for another election cycle or two. It’s a call that the card-carrying members of the isle GOP should heed, because without a course correction there’s little hope of the party increasing its influence on Hawaii governance. That would be a loss for residents overall, regardless of party affiliation, because it’s in the competition of ideas that the best public policies are born. Willing warriors for the electoral battles don’t have much time to sit back. Tuesday is the deadline for candidates in the primary election, which, with this year’s calendar, is coming up fast, on Aug. 11. The reasons Hawaii’s Republicans are concerned are not new — the party has struggled to retain a viable minority status in the Legislature for years, and in the state Senate is now down to a single member, Sam Slom. But the announced retirement of a popular Republican veteran in the state House, Rep. Barbara Marumoto, has sparked fresh worries. As it is, there are currently only eight Republicans in the 51-member House. Reapportionment would have pitted Marumoto against another incumbent, Democrat Mark Hashem. In addition, GOP Rep. Kymberly Pine is stepping down to seek a City Council seat. The good news is that the new election maps devised by the state Reapportionment Commission and upheld by the U.S. District Court also shifted boundaries enough to create five open House districts. If the GOP wants to give its rebuilding process a push, finding strong candidates to contend in those districts, where nobody has an incumbent’s edge, would be the obvious place to start. Potential candidates for the coming election have held off on making firm campaign commitments because the fate of the redistricting plan was in the hands of the U.S. District Court. Even when that decision came down on Tuesday, novice candidates are left with little time to mount a credible campaign. That’s why, Chang said, the GOP is relieved that around two dozen of its candidates from the 2010 election have decided to make another run at office, and having that experience under their belts should help them this time around. However, Chang added that his strategy is to take the "farm club" approach: recruiting members who may not be ready to run now but can be groomed and mentored for a 2014 or 2016 campaign season. They will be encouraged to start by getting involved in their neighborhood boards or other community organizations, as well as participating in party organiza- tional work. He added that although Hawaii historians like to point to the 1954 "revolution" that swept Democrats into office, it really took years of organizing. The GOP needs to take one step at a time, Chang correctly observes — a rational way forward for Republicans who should invest time doing the grassroots work of connecting with voters. Previous Story Off the News Next Story What exactly is Cayetano's transit plan?