We’ve had a Republican Governor for the last eight years, so it’s easy, and understandable, for outsiders to conclude that the party has some clout. It doesn’t. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more fragmented, marginalized and impotent group.
November 2 was a good day for Republicans nationwide, but the conservative wave fizzled into foam before it reached the Aloha State. Hawaii elected a Democratic Governor and reduced the number of Republicans in the state Senate from two to one. The GOP did gain a seat in the House—bringing its meager caucus to eight.
Whatever your political persuasion, this is bad news. We have a de facto one-party system and the ruling party has grown predictably corrupt and complacent, led by power-drunk good-old-boys unchecked by meaningful opposition.
So where’s the outrage? Enter Eric Ryan, a right-wing activist who fired off a letter two days after the election, calling for the heads of state GOP bosses. “Two days ago, the rest of the country turned red while Hawaii became even more blue,” Ryan wrote, addressing his remarks to chair Jonah Ka‘auwai, vice chair and failed lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Lynn Finnegan and Gov. Lingle, among others. “In light of these massive losses, missed opportunities and misspent resources, you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Ryan went on to accuse party brass of taking their eye off the ball by focusing on civil unions instead of the economy, of “engaging in a persistent and reprehensible campaign of lies” to secure Finnegan the nomination and of “blowing 99 [percent] of our party’s resources on Aiona’s and Djou’s quests for glory.”
“Please do the right thing and tender your resignations, place the past party chairman in charge as an interim leader, support a full, independent audit of the party and its finances, and help to ensure repayment of improperly diverted funds,” concluded Ryan, adding, “this would be righteous,” a reference to the Scripture-littered pro-Aiona e-mail Ka‘auwai sent to church groups before the primary.
Of course, anyone can survey the wreckage and point fingers. But Ryan made similar, if more measured, comments last year when Ka‘auwai, Finnegan and others were tapped as the party’s new, “fresh-faced” leaders. “Not one of these officers has ever run a campaign, most have never been on a campaign,” he told the AP at the time.
Now they have, and the results speak for themselves.