The countdown is on.
On Tuesday, March 8, Hawaii voters will weigh in on the Republican presidential race: real estate mogul Donald Trump, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Florida senator Marco Rubio and Ohio governor John Kasich.
With the nomination still anyone’s to claim, candidates are pushing hard to get every single vote.
A candidate needs 1,237 delegates to secure the Republican nomination and Hawaii has 19 delegates up for grabs.
Polling places will be open from 6-8 p.m., and you’ll need to register as a Republican, which Hawaii residents can do on site with a valid photo ID.
On Monday night, local campaigns for all the candidates were busy trying to gain support before Republican voters make their selection.
Less than 24 hours before the caucus, the Hawaii Republican Party hosted a “Countdown to Caucus” event.
While the Cruz campaign declined the invitation to take part, three other candidates were all represented, and all excited for what they say is a significant rise in voter interest.
“We’re trying to get more people to come out and vote in Hawaii,” said Kimo Sutton of Trump Hawaii. “For the Republican candidate, Democrats, independents, those who have never voted before, coming out with their ID tomorrow night and they’re going to join the Republican Party and vote, and most of those will be for Trump hopefully.”
Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum is representing Rubio. He says calls for Rubio to drop out of the race before his home state of Florida votes are ridiculous.
“I think Marco is going to win Florida,” he said. “I’ll give them almost 199 delegates and put them almost tied with the other guys in the race. It’ll be a whole new ballgame.”
For Kasich, the game plan is very much the same as Rubio’s: win his home state of Ohio and the 86 delegates up for grabs in that winner-take-all contest, and the path to the nomination is there.
But the Kasich campaign also says that path starts Tuesday, here in Hawaii.
“It’s very critical and this year, out of all the years that anybody can remember, is very critical for Hawaii, which is a wonderful thing,” said Marilia Duffles of Kasich Hawaii. “We may be geographically isolated, but we’re not politically isolated.”
One point the candidates do agree on, especially those not named Trump, is that this race is far from over.
“If Marco wins Florida and Kasich wins Ohio, and I think those are very likely, this race is going to go to convention,” Santorum said. “Nobody’s going to be able to get to the 50 percent, so I say to the folks here in Hawaii, you have an opportunity to make a difference. Nineteen votes all of a sudden becomes not insignificant if you’re brokering and dealing to find a nominee.”
“If Kasich is elected president, he will not forget Hawaii,” Duffles said.
Trump himself will push for Hawaii votes. We’ll have a live interview with him Tuesday morning on Wake Up 2day.
“Hopefully, you’ll get a couple questions and see how powerful that is in the message he has for Hawaii,” Sutton said.