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GOP Delegation: Hawaii
By Steven Patrick
Electoral votes: 4
Chairman: Barbara Marumoto
Hotel: Crowne Plaza (215) 561-7500
Only Delaware and Vermont have smaller Republican convention delegations than Hawaii's 14-member contingent - even though nine states have smaller populations.
The reason for this is the unyielding Democratic tendency of a state where minorities - mainly Asians and Pacific Islanders - make up the vast majority of the electorate. Republican rules award extra delegates to states that elect Republicans to major office and thereby effectively penalize those, such as Hawaii, that don't.
President Clinton trounced 1996 Republican nominee Bob Dole in Hawaii 57 percent to 32 percent. And in no other state is Democratic domination - at the federal, state and local levels - more thorough.
However, the small band of Republicans taking the long flight to Philadelphia professes stronger optimism than usual. In 1998, Linda Lingle, then-mayor of Maui, came within 2 percentage points of unseating Democratic Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano and becoming Hawaii's first Republican governor since its early days as a state.
Lingle, now the state Republican chairman, is one of several leading party officials who passed up delegate slots so grass-roots activists could fill them. But Lingle plans to attend the convention as the delegation's "unofficial" leader.
"I joined the party right after Mayor Lingle ran for governor," said Danny Rodrigues, a truck driver and first-time Republican convention delegate. "She really inspired me."
Barbara Marumoto, the state House minority leader, is the official chairman of the Hawaii delegation.
Though the delegation has some members who initially supported the presidential ambitions of Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Dole, its members are now unanimously behind Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
The party this year appears to have mainly avoided the infighting between moderates and religious conservatives that marked some recent presidential year activity in Hawaii.
"We are very reflective of Hawaii," said delegate David Pendleton, a rising star among the small group of Republicans in the state House. "We are pro-life and pro-choice. But we are all change-oriented."
Philip Hellreich, a longtime moderate Republican activist and a dermatologist who chairs Hawaii's "Physicians for Bush," is primarily interested in health care and economic issues. He said he is willing to bend on social issues in order to keep "unity."
"My philosophy is that I won't oppose" religious conservatives, he said.
Rodrigues aligns himself with the more conservative side of the GOP on social issues such as education, abortion and same-sex marriages (an issue of particular debate in Hawaii) - but is uncertain where he fits in on other issues. "I just want to see where I stand in the Republican Party," said Rodrigues, who has been politically active for less than two years.
Rodrigues' presence in the delegation is cited by state GOP leaders as symbolic of the party's outreach to Hispanics, who make up about 8 percent of Hawaii's population.
HAWAII NOTABLES: State House Minority Leader Barbara Marumoto, the delegation chairman; Republican National Committee members Miriam Hellreich and Howard Chong; state House Republican Floor Leader David Pendleton; state House Minority Whip Galen Fox.
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