Republicans in the state House of Representatives have ousted their minority leader Rep. Beth Fukumoto over her criticism of President Donald Trump, including recent comments that she made at the Women’s March in Honolulu last month.
Fukumoto, 33, said today that she is now considering switching over to the Democratic Party following this week’s actions by her Republican colleagues, which would further deplete the party of young leadership. She had been described as a rising star in Hawaii’s Republican Party, which holds only six seats in the 76-member Legislature.
Fukumoto (R, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) said that she had been told by a faction of her Republican colleagues that if she didn’t commit to not criticizing Trump for the rest of his term, they would oust her as minority leader.
She said she refused.
“I believe it is our job as Americans and as leaders of this body to criticize power when power is wrong,” she said during today’s House floor session.
On Tuesday, during a closed door session, House Republicans voted 3-2 to remove her from leadership. Voting in favor of the leadership reorganization were Reps. Gene Ward, Bob McDermott and Andria Tupola. Reps. Cynthia Thielen and Fukumoto voted against it and Rep. Lauren Matsumoto abstained.
The leadership changes were made official during today’s House floor session.
Replacing Fukumoto as minority leader is Tupola. Ward takes the place of minority floor leader.
Fukumoto sent out a letter to constituents in her district prior to today’s floor session telling them that she would like to leave the Republican Party, but said she wanted to get their feedback first.
Fukumoto spoke at the Jan. 21 Women’s March in Honolulu in opposition of Trump, including calling the president a bully.
“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Fukumoto said today in a news release. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.”
“This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party,” Fukumoto said. “When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.”