Local GOP speak out on Takai announcement, Trump as possible presidential nominee

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Hawaii’s U.S. representative Mark Takai recently announced he would not be seeking re-election in order to concentrate on his battle against pancreatic cancer.

At the Republican state convention at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu Saturday, some possible candidates were assessing their chances of a last-minute campaign for Takai’s 1st congressional seat.

Takai’s announcement generated words of support and encouragement at the convention, but it’s also created a spark of hope of breaking the Democratic dominance in Washington. Suddenly, it’s a whole new ball game.

Former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona said “I know Mark is a brother in Christ, so my prayers are out to him and his family, first and foremost. Second, no, I am not considering it. I do know someone who’s perfect for that office.”

Charles Djou, who was a U.S. representative from 2010-11, said in his previous campaign that it was his last. Does that still hold true? “Well, things always change. I continue to be deeply concerned about the lack of accountability here in our government. I am not and have not been campaigning for public office, but so many friends and supporters are urging me to take a look, so I’m thinking about it.”

What factors in this race is the time remaining to launch an expensive campaign and the toll on Djou’s family members of another election bid.

Also of concern to Republicans is the health of State Senator Sam Slom, who is recovering from surgery. Slom is facing former City Councilman Stanley Chang, a popular Democrat in east Honolulu.

Hawaii’s primary election is August 13.

Local Republicans also recognize this has been one of the most divisive elections in years, with internal turmoil fracturing the party, in light of Donald Trump’s presumptive presidential nomination. The Republican National Convention is in Cleveland, July 18-21.

“We need new leadership,” said convention delegate Michael Palcic. “The same people have been ruling the party too long.”

“This is a democracy in which we might never have the same opinions. We can agree to disagree,” said State Rep. Gene Ward (Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley).

With six state primaries still to go, Trump is 76 delegates away from securing his party’s nomination … or is he? Conservative anti-Trump factions are still hoping for a brokered convention.

Of Hawaii’s 19 Republican delegates, 11 are pledged to Trump. When asked what she will do if it does become a broked convention in Cleveland, delegate Jaci Agustin said “I would suggest for people going to the convention to vet each candidate. However, since Donald Trump has all the support, they should vote what the people have voted for.”

“At the end of the day, if there are other nominees, we need to weigh what is best for the party and the nation,” said legislative minority leader State Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang (Mililani, Mililani Mauka).

“And you would not vote for Donald Trump?,” KHON2 asked.

“I’m not prepared to,” she said. “There are questions he needs to answer.”

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