After disappointing Election Day, Hawaii GOP looks to rebuild
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Election Day, Republicans clinched the presidency and secured majorities in both houses of Congress.
Things didn't go as well for Hawaii's Republicans in local races.
Democrat Stanley Chang unseated Hawaii's lone Republican state senator, Sam Slom. And only six Republicans remain in the state House.
Now, the party is looking to rebuild -- by recruiting.
"You have to have a farm team to get people ready to compete in the majors," said Republican Party of Hawaii Chairman Fritz Rohlfing.
Nearly 129,000 Hawaii residents voted for Donald Trump, but local Republican leaders say they are not benefiting from a Trump trickle-down effect.
Instead, Republican Miriam Hellreich said, "We are building a bench. We've got some people that are not ready to run this time but will be ready to run in two years."
In 2000, there were 19 Republicans in the state House of Representatives, and Linda Lingle, who later became governor, was the party chairwoman. Fundraising was easier back then says Bob McDermott whose district includes Ewa, McDermott says now, they struggle to build a war chest.
"The ability for us to raise money is a challenge, all of our donations are $50, $100, $200. The other side is $2000, $2000, $2000, maxed out by special interests."
Rohlfing says Hawaii could benefit from a two-party system but the GOP knows it will not be easy.
Many see Andria Tupola, the Representative for the Leeward Coast, as a rising Republican star.
"She's got tremendous, tremendous energy," says McDermott, "She's extraordinary, if we could clone her we would."
Since they can't, party leaders will just have to hope more will follow her lead and begin a come back, one seat at a time.
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