Local Republican Party sees promise in making incremental gains

Though they didn’t have any major contested races, the Hawaii Republican Party says it’s happy with the outcome of the primary election.

Party chair Fritz Rohlfing says it always an uphill battle winning Republican votes in a blue state, but he feels the results from Saturday’s primary, especially in Leeward Oahu, are promising.

“It’s going to be a challenge, just to make those incremental gains that we’re talking about,” said Rohlfing, “but I think we’re up to the task and moving in the right direction.”

Rohlfing said he was pleasantly surprised with Charles Djou’s showing in the Honolulu mayoral race, despite it being a non-partisan election.

“You have almost a 4:1 ratio of people selecting the Democratic ballot over the Republican, and yet the challenger to the current incumbent (Kirk Caldwell) basically fought him to a draw.”

Another hotly contested race to watch come the general election in November is the District 9 face-off between Sam Slom and Stanley Chang. Slom is the lone Republican in the state senate and the incumbent for the last two decades.

“We need to have somebody in the opposing party, keeping folks honest on the other side, and Sam fulfills that role admirably,” said Rohlfing.

Republicans have a chance to snag the District 44 state representative seat in Leeward Oahu, with Marc Paaluhi taking on Democratic newcomer Cedric Gates, who beat out incumbent Jo Jordan.

“The Republican candidates did draw a fair number of votes in that area, and that district tends to be lower in turnout, even in the general election, so that is going to be a major focus for us.”

The party’s main goal for the next 12 weeks is getting Republican voters to the polls to have their voices heard.

“If we can take one or two of those and come out of this election a little stronger in the state legislature,” Rohlfing said, “we’ll be happy because we can build on that.”

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