Hawaii is alive and well at the DNC

  • Photo courtesy Gary Hooser

    Democratic Party of Hawaii National Committeeman Bart Dame, left, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, center, and Democratic Party Vice Chair Gary Hooser in Washington, D.C.

I recently had the honor and privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C., to represent the Democratic Party of Hawaii at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee.

As vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I hold one of the four seats on the DNC allotted to our state. The meetings are held over several days, and the items discussed ranged from planning the 2020 Presidential Convention, to passing resolutions governing national party policy rules and by-laws, to the establishment of guidelines intended to govern the upcoming presidential debates. Each state is represented by similar delegations, plus there are a number of other DNC members who also participate and vote.

Though I am vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, I am not the official public spokesperson for the party, so please accept the words and comments written here as my own viewpoint only.

I will say first and foremost that I am very pleased to inform readers that while in Washington, D.C., I was able to meet with Sen. Brian Schatz and thank him personally for introducing at the national level a bill emulating to a great extent SB3095 banning chlorpyrifos and putting into place other important regulations governing Restricted Use Pesticides.

As those that follow this issue know all too well, this effort all started on Kauai with Bill 2491. To know that the effort which began in our local community as simply an idea intended to deal with a local problem, is now being introduced at the national level, should make all of Kauai proud.

While Sen. Mazie Hirono was not available to meet, her office was very gracious in arranging for Bart Dame, the Hawaii National Committeeman and myself to visit the Senate gallery and view debate on The New Green Deal, that was then underway.

It was pointed out by several senators on the floor that while the opposition was quick to throw stones and criticize, they offered no competing solutions to limit carbon emissions, and in fact most including the president were in denial that climate change, sea level rise and related problems were even real issues that needed to be dealt with.

During the intense four days of back-to back-meetings, I also had the pleasure to meet with political and government leaders from across the country.

I was especially pleased to speak with the leadership from Oregon and Washington State who spoke with pride and enthusiasm of their passage of automatic voter registration laws, and all mail-in voting.

New Jersey was there talking about how they had recently raised their minimum wage to $15, and in general there was a significant focus on what various states were doing to support low income working families.

The DNC meeting also held some disappointments in as much as the top party leaders failed to embrace the banning of corporate PAC donations to the DNC. Instead, the decision was made to put off this discussion until the 2020 convention, with the knowledge that individual candidates would be making their own individual decisions on this.

The exact location of the convention has not yet been decided but the three leading contenders at the moment are Houston, Milwaukee and Miami.

On the positive side, some very progressive guidelines that will govern the upcoming presidential primary debate selection process were announced.

Essentially the debate “thresholds for entry” are set to accommodate true grassroots candidates and not just a handful of “big names,” those who have the most money or who are polling the highest in all 50 states.

In short, any candidate that can demonstrate even 1 percent national name recognition and/or demonstrate a strong nation wide grassroots small donor fundraising base can qualify for the debate stage.

It is widely recognized and seen as a healthy sign, that there will be numerous highly qualified candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States.

The debates will feature many candidates and are intended to give all a fair shot at demonstrating their qualifications and personal attributes, to all of the American people. Then as the process moves forward, some candidates will gain traction and many others will not.

There seemed to be a clear and unwavering commitment from all in attendance that whoever emerges as the winner of the 2020 Democratic Party convention to be held July 13–16, 2020, would gain the support of all.

And given the high quality of the wide field of candidates that have already declared, most attendees truly believe the Party membership and general public will in fact coalesce around that primary winner.

Over and over again it was stressed that the 2020 elections would be the most important one of our lifetime, and that the reelection of the person presently in office, would be an unmitigated disaster for people and the planet.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Don Brown February 20, 2019 7:17 am Reply

    According to today’s Wall Street Journal, “In CNBC’s annual ranking of the best and worst states for business, seven high-tax states were among those ranked lowest in infrastructure quality—Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.”

    The DNC and The Democratic Party should be ashamed of such a dismal record.

    1. rk669 February 20, 2019 5:27 pm Reply

      They’re proud of their Ghetto,just ask mazee!

  2. rk669 February 20, 2019 11:16 am Reply

    DNC and Billary paid for the Russian Fake Trump Dossier!

    1. kauaiboy February 21, 2019 12:18 pm Reply


      Everything in the Russian/Trump Dossier has proven to be true, except no proof yet of the Pee-Pee episode. I’m feeling pretty certain that Putin has a tape of that and is using it to extort the President of the US into doing his bidding.

      Your mind has been twisted by Trump and Faux…err, Fox…News.

      Spare yourself the embarrassment and stop posting your idiotic comments.

      1. John Zwiebel February 24, 2019 9:48 am Reply

        I don’t think anything in the Steele Dossier has been proven to be true. There has been a lot of innuendo by Rachael Maddow and Chris Hayes, but I stopped paying attention to them months and months ago as I realized they are only there to support the “Democratic Party Oligarchy”. (I listen to Peter B. Collins and his “stable” of intelligent political observers.)

        The “Oligarchy” is united in that it wants to “have it all” meaning everything you and everyone else thinks you own. But they have fights among themselves over which of them will be the “one to stand alone”. Clinton and Trump are both Oligarchs, but obviously despise one another.

        The Russiagate meme was made up out of near-nothingness to provide Hillary Clinton a convenient excuse for running such a horrible campaign that she lost to Donald Trump.

  3. Steve February 21, 2019 1:50 pm Reply

    I don’t know Mr Dame, but surely he could’ve found something better to wear while representing a delegation from Hawaii! I’d have guessed he was representing corn growers from Iowa or the Idaho Potato lobby—and forgot to bring his Sunday clothes.

    1. billyjoebob February 22, 2019 12:47 am Reply

      But can you guess which 2 out of the 3 sell snake oil, Steve ?

  4. John Zwiebel February 24, 2019 9:30 am Reply

    Well, Gary, I still will not vote for a corporatist for President. Bart did an amazing job in 2016 of helping to get Sanders well-known across Hawaii. I hope he’ll be able to do that same job again supporting another truly progressive candidate.

    Unless we elect someone who is strongly committed to dealing with the Climate Crisis, it won’t matter if it is Trump or a Corporatist Democrat elected to office.

    Then too, a corporatist won’t change US policies that make our nation the greatest threat to peace in the world. Democratic support of the coup in Venezuela is just a naked power grab, a theft of the resources that should belong to that nation. I guess native Hawaiians understand what that means. Of course, I’m sure we all remember how Hillary Clinton overthrew the elected government of Honduras. Point being, again, I’m not voting for a corporatist.

    One of the requirements for being on the first debate stage is 65000 individual donors and 200 each in at least 20 states. If you have a candidate you want to see on the stage, just send them $1.

  5. Leilani March 16, 2019 2:27 pm Reply

    Add Oregon to one of the poorest states – 47th or 48th WORST in high school graduation rates and run by Democrats for decades.
    Not to mention their state pension plan and almost all state’s pension plans are not funded.
    Wisconsin has had one of the best state pension plans as far as funding goes – you know – run by Scott Walker – a Republican?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.