WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 300 delegates gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for the Hawaii Republican Convention, where they heard criticism of the records of Democratic President Barack Obama and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and from two high-profile candidates for spots on Capitol Hill.
One of those candidates is former Gov. Linda Lingle, now running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Dan Akaka.
"Let's come together once again to make history, like we did ten years ago when I beat Mazie for the first time," she said, drawing cheers and applause. Mazie Hirono, now a congresswoman, is running for the same seat on the Democratic ticket.
Lingle also rallied the GOP to make gains in a state where Democrats make up a large majority in the legislature. "It is about having a balance two-party system of government that works in a bipartisan fashion to come up with the best ideas to make Hawaii greater than it already is," she said.
The convention's other keynote speaker was Charles Djou, now running to regain the U.S. House seat he lost to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa two years ago. He told delegates that this election will be a fight against reckless spending in Washington. "That's what we need in our representative delegation in Congress, not somebody who's going to be a rubber stamp and say and do whatever the Democratic leadership does," he said, to applause.
Those sentiments were echoed in a short video from Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. He concluded, "In November, we're gonna fire Barack Obama and save America." The remark drew loud cheers from the crowd.
On the state level, the GOP said some 60 candidates have pulled papers to run as Republicans. "Some of the younger, some of the brighter, some of the best that you're going to see in Hawaii are going to be coming under the Republican ticket, so we're very, very excited about it," said Rep. Gene Ward, who was vice chair of the party's candidate recruitment committee.
One of those candidates is Beth Fukumoto, who served as an interim party chair last year. "We have such a low voter turnout, and it's because people don't feel engaged, especially young people," she said. "And I feel that us as the Republican party can engage those people again."
Kaui Jochanan Amsterdam is running for the U.S. House, and outlined his issues. "With Daniel Akaka leaving, representation in order to advance Native Hawaiian determination, in addition to education, helping the seniors (and) the families."
Larry Fenton is running for a seat in the state senate. "Our current politicians, the current Democrats, they don't seem to care about local issues and about what working people's needs are, and so I think we can fill that gap," he said.
"This is the first time I've run as a Republican. And this is also my first Hawaii Republican convention so I'm really excited to be here," he added.