Hawaii Republicans looking for winning formula in 2016

Hawaii GOP seeking election turnaround
Published: Nov. 9, 2015 at 10:37 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2015 at 11:26 PM HST
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Duke Aiona
Duke Aiona

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With losses at the ballot box piling up, Hawaii Republicans are searching for a winning formula.

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, a Republican, has teamed up with Hawaii Family Advocates to spread a faith-based message.

The Hawaii Republican Assembly, a conservative Republican group, is looking to rethink how the party attracts voters.

And the Hawaii Republican Party is looking to come up with a more focused message.

Going into the 2016 election season, there's little doubt that Hawaii Republicans face an uphill battle. Political analysts say the efforts to rethink how Republican groups galvanize voters are worth watching, but they're not sure they'll make much difference.

University of Hawaii political science Professor Colin Moore said the party will be challenged to convince young political hopefuls to stay with the GOP.

"It doesn't look like there's a lot of opportunity for advancement there," he said. "If you want to rise and get elected to statewide office or even national office from Hawaii, you probably have to be a member of the Democratic party."

Republicans aren't so sure.

"What I want to do with that is to identify our faith-based voters and make sure that I not only identify them and get them registered, but I get them out to vote," Aiona said.

Willes Lee, of the Hawaii Republican Assembly, said candidates aren't getting the right support from the party -- and that's something he wants to see change.

"Our legislators have failed to have a coherent message. We need to do better and we can do better," Lee said.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Fritz Rohlfing said it's not just about supporting candidates, it's about recruiting the right ones.

"And then it's just focusing our message on the things that voters care most about," he said.

The efforts to attract new voters come amid infighting in the Republican ranks.

The Hawaii Republican Party has ordered the Hawaii Republican Assembly to stop using an elephant logo and the word Republican in its materials. Aiona said the controversy can confuse GOP backers, but shouldn't sidetrack from efforts to find viable candidates.

"I'm meeting with one right now, very young, very talented, I think very appealing and will be a very good candidate for us," he said.

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