Kaua‘i GOP holds first straw poll

The first Hawaiian Republican presidential caucus made history Tuesday night as Mitt Romney won in the preference polling, with volunteers more clear on their respective campaigns throughout the islands.

David S. Chang, state chairman of the Hawai‘i Republican Party, said the national GOP has designated Hawai‘i a top state to support because of the U.S. Senate election bid of former Hawai‘i Gov. Linda Lingle. The race against U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai‘i, is close, and Republicans stand a good chance of winning “a D seat,” he said.

“Every seat is open in the state for election except for Sen. Inouye and Gov. Abercrombie, so Kaua‘i will have to vote for Senate, Second Congressional District, and (state) House and Senate seats,” Chang said.

The Associated Press reported that Mitt Romney won the Hawai‘i straw poll Tuesday with 45 percent of the vote. Rick Santorum placed second with 25 percent, followed by Ron Paul with 18 percent and Newt Gingrich at 11 percent.

Kaua‘i Republicans chose Romney with 36 percent, followed by Santorum with 28 percent, Paul with 26 percent, and Gingrich with 9 percent.

Romney will grab nine of Hawai‘i’s delegates from 51 districts to be cast at the Republican National Convention in Tampa the last weekend of August. Santorum received four delegates, and Paul earned one.

Bill Georgi is the county-wide chair in the Second Congressional District. He leads a group in localizing national politics, relating them to Mainland issues.

There are three state district chairs: Dave Hammon in District 14; Ron Agor in District 15 and JoAnne Georgi in District 16.

“The district numbers are the old districts. The new boundaries and district numbers have not yet been formally established,” Bill Georgi said.

“I expect the Big Island will get one more state House and one more state Senate seat. Therefore, we should have House districts 15, 16, and 17 for the election,” he said Tuesday.

The party channels information through the district chairs. Much of the work on Kaua‘i is handled at the presidential caucus, the Lincoln Dinner, State Convention, Kaua‘i Fair and individual candidate events.

Chang, who works out of state Party headquarters in Honolulu, said the 2012 General Election is a “one in 40 year” event with decennial redistricting and a presidential election year.

“Democrats are strong all across the island,” Chang said. “We will just have to get our message out, recruit good candidates, get a good message out and be united to elect Republicans.”

The Kaua‘i County Republican Party is a “good group” of volunteers, Chang said.

The Hawai‘i Republican Party held its election kickoff in February. There are presently no presidential candidates scheduled to appear in Hawai‘i, but volunteers will be doing outreach, he said.

Find out more about the Hawai‘i Republican Party at www.GOPHawaii.com.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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