The state Republican convention concludes today after opening Friday morning at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa in Honolulu.
The theme this year was “Republican Leadership Matters.”
Although the party has all but selected its presidential candidate, Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, the event offered time for party building and selection of delegates to the national GOP convention Sept. 1 to 4 in Minneapolis.
“On the state level, the convention is a time when we hear about the good, bad and ugly of the 2008 legislative session from our elected candidates,” senior Kaua‘i Republican Ron Agor said. “It is a time to rally for the 2008 election, lots of excitement.”
The convention is very important as it votes on the adoption of the 2008 platform on which the party goals and objectives are framed for the coming elections, Kaua‘i District 15 Chair Ron Holte said.
“If a candidate has no platform the voters have no clue or assurance what will be done if they are elected,” he said.
For example, Hawai‘i Gov. Linda Lingle ran her election based on the 2006 platform and she has strongly worked to carry it out, he said.
But the dominant Democratic state Legislature has opposed most programs and projects she has attempted to carry out, he said.
Agor said the Republican Party’s platform won the governorship in every district in Hawai‘i and the mayorship of Kaua‘i.
“Personally, I see the people of Hawai‘i electing the governorship based on issues,” he said. “Gov. Lingle has been very good about advocating issues. For some reason though, Hawai‘i can not seem to bring issues to the table when voting for legislators. It’s all about the ‘D’ or the ‘R.’”
There are only 11 Republicans in the Legislature.
The party’s goal is to convince the state’s voters to start considering issues when voting for their legislators, Agor said. For that reason, improving the platform this year is important.
The convention also provides several training sessions encompassing the party’s data and voter systems, voter registration training, candidate door-to-door campaign training, public speaking and debate training, Holte said.
The state delegates chosen to go to the national GOP convention will vote for the Republican presidential candidate and the national platform.
Agor said the convention also affords time to meet elected officials and department heads and congratulate them for their work.
“We hear about them and read about them. It’s nice to see them,” he said.
With less than six months to the Nov. 4 presidential election, Agor said he is extra excited for the convention this year because Republicans have a candidate in John McCain who can win the race.
“McCain brings to the party the core values of the Republicans with his flare of applying the values,” he said. “He has proven the ability to bring both sides of the aisles together to serve the people of this great country. He has voted on issues based on maximizing benefits to the people and not necessarily the party.”
Agor said McCain has supported bills that are good for citizens regardless of the party affiliation of the person who introduced the bill.
“Personally, I can identify with him because my philosophy of working for the community without partisanship parallels his,” he said.
Delegates at the convention also vote for a national committeeman and committeewoman who will represent the state Republican Party at the national GOP business meetings the next two years, Holte said.
Kaua‘i delegates to the state convention were elected at the caucus meetings in February from the island’s three voting districts.
Roughly 15 to 18 delegates from each district are attending, Holte said. To qualify, a delegate must be a registered voter and a GOP state party member.
Holte attended the convention and led a group in convention activities.
• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or firstname.lastname@example.org