GOP race for governor excites Hawaii conservatives, but Republicans remain a minority

For the past decade, less than 20% of Hawaii voters picked up a Republican ballot.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 5:42 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jaymie Barnes said she has mixed feelings about being a conservative voter in the islands. On one hand, she said, many of her friends and family are open to hearing a minority perspective. On the other, she doesn’t see a lot of other voices that represent her opinions.

Barnes was born and raised in Hawaii and met her husband, Darrell Barnes, while they were in the Army.

They said education, cost of living, and moral values guide their votes.

“It’s because we’re Christians,” Barnes said. “It really stems from our religious beliefs. Those basic conservative values, we’re going to fall into the Republican party.”

With Donald Trump on the ballot in 2020, about 19% of the state’s voters picked up a Republican ballot.

That’s the highest it’s been in a decade.


But that is far from enough voters to win seats. The state Legislature only has one Republican senator and four GOP representatives.

In the primary election, Republicans are finding a rare statewide race for governor with high-profile candidates.

“As the Republican Party has become more populist, more deeply conservative on the mainland, I also think that has turned off a lot of local voters,” said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

He added: “I think it’s divided locally between more traditional Republicans ― people who would have supported Linda Lingle and Duke Aiona ― and people who really are more Trump-style Republicans, who I’m sure find B.J. Penn’s candidacy really exciting.”

Jaymie and Darrell Barnes are raising three young children in East Kapolei. They said they would like to see lower taxes and a more business-friendly Hawaii after seeing COVID’s impacts on paychecks.

“A lot of things that were done were detrimental,” said Darrell Barnes. “And I don’t think that Republicans make those decisions.”

The Barnes said they’re supporting gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona.

“One of the things he mentioned was that he’s noticed that lately, Hawaii seems to be lacking a moral compass,” said Jaymie Barnes.

They said despite being in the minority, they find people willing to listen to a different perspective.

“I have a lot of friends who have different political beliefs as I do even different morals and values,” Jaymie Barnes said. “But you know what, they’re still my friends. "

They would just like to hear more opinions they can relate to.

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