Rep. Beth Fukumoto was accepted into the Democratic Party on Saturday with the unanimous vote of the Oahu county executive committee.
The vote came after weeks of meetings Fukumoto had with members of the party, including State Chair Tim Vandeveer, members of the county’s executive committee and the Democratic Party’s LGBT caucus.
Fukumoto, who represents Mililani, said she spoke with members “about our mutual goals, passions, and how we can work together to make a better life for the people of Hawaii,” in a press release announcing the vote.
“I got involved in politics with the goal of making Hawaii more affordable for local families, and I’m looking forward to doing that work with the Democratic Party of Hawaii,” said Fukumoto.
Fukumoto left the Republican Party earlier this year amid growing tensions over her criticism of President Donald Trump. In February, she was ousted as minority leader by her Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Some in the Democratic Party had complained that the party has been too lenient in accepting former Republicans. But Tim Vandeveer, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, suggested that the process had been fair.
“I firmly believed that our Party should hold Rep. Fukumoto to no stricter an ideological standard than anyone else with a ‘D’ behind their name that currently sits in the big square building” said Vandeveer, in a press release. “While I agree with the notion that we should seek to elect better Democrats and not just more Democrats, I also understand that we are a ‘big tent’ party that is welcoming of many different ideas and viewpoints. This is the balance that confronts us.”
Marilyn Lee, a former Democratic member of the House who was defeated by Fukumoto in past elections, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that she planned to appeal the decision to the Democratic Party’s State Central Committee.
“I would not do this if there were not major concerns about her commitment to the Democratic Party and its platform,” said Lee.
Lee would need 10 members of the State Central Committee to sign on to her appeal in order for it to move forward, said Vandeveer.