Maui Democrats troubled by Trump’s presidential victory

Maui Democrats and lawmakers were shocked and disappointed as Donald Trump claimed victory over Hillary Clinton on Tuesday to become the 45th president of the United States.

“I understand that people wanted change, but I think people are going to wake up tomorrow and go, ‘Oh my God, not this change,’ “ South Maui Sen. Roz Baker said.

While Clinton won Hawaii’s four electoral votes — gathering more than 60 percent or 235,000 votes — Trump captured the presidency. Republicans also maintained majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.

If Democrats were unhappy, Maui conservatives were jumping for joy as the results trickled in, and said they believe the billionaire businessman will turn America around.

“I’m sorry, he just won so I’m jumping around my room,” said Pearl Patterson of Haiku. “This is amazing. I had an intuition that he was going to win a lot of states, but I didn’t know how many he would take.”

Valerie Sisneros, president of the Tea Party Maui, said she was surprised by the results and did not think Trump could win the election because of media bias and Democrats “playing really dirty.” She said Trump was not her candidate at first, “but in the past month or so he definitely focused his message better and surrounded himself with” smart and respected people.

Baker said that America is poised to “set its values back a good 50 years.” She said the Republican majority in the House and Senate does not bode well for women, minorities or equality.

“We’ll have to see if Trump has any redeeming qualities,” she said. “I’m glad I live in Hawaii, but I think it’s going to be very difficult from a policy perspective for any support from the federal government. I think Hawaii is going to have to look at what we do for ourselves because I don’t think it’s going to get very much funding.”

Baker believes a Trump administration won’t help Democratic states like Hawaii, and that he does not bring “any good to the table.” She worries the election has taken the nation down and feels Hawaii lawmakers will face an uphill climb in Congress.

“Are the Republicans going to roll over any opposing views?” she asked. “Are they going to undo the last 50 years of any progress? That’s what scares me because I just don’t know.”

Maui County Democratic Party Chairman Troy Hashimoto was “optimistic” and crossing his fingers earlier in the night as Clinton trailed. He said that the party held several watch parties on Maui and drove a bus with Clinton supporters to various local campaign sites.

Hashimoto was happy with Hawaii’s vote for Clinton and her “progressive values.” He hopes Trump will “step it up when he becomes our leader.”

“Obviously I think a lot of us were surprised,” he said. “It just proves that it’s important that everyone goes out to vote. Some of those contests were really close (nationwide). I think people really need to understand what’s going on in politics … to make sure their values are truly represented in our community.”

Sen. Gil Keith Agaran, who represents Kahului, Waihee and Wailuku, said he also was disappointed with Trump’s election and is unsure what the business mogul could do to positively affect Hawaii.

“I think it’s going to come down to the people he puts in his administration,” he said. “If we need money and resources for agriculture and infrastructure, a lot is going to depend on if the president and Congress is willing to put in the funding.”

Patterson, a Christian conservative, said she agreed with Trump on “basically everything.” She admitted that he was “kind of big-mouthed and didn’t rub everyone the right way” initially, but brought many Christian leaders into his life and is now a “totally different person.”

“This has really changed my life,” she said. “I’ve never been interested in politics whatsoever, but I feel the need to try to get his attention or staff somehow. I do have connections with Honolulu leaders who have his personal phone number so we’re going to voice our opinions to them and I think he’ll actually consider them.”

Sisneros said her “number one” reason for voting Trump was that “he loves America,” unlike the “anti-American (President Barack) Obama.” She believes Trump will take the country out of chaos and out from under big government and its policies.

“He quit acting like a 6-year-old and focused his message,” she said. “The main thing I love about him is the pendulum swing from an anti-American president to a president who loves America.”

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.

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