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State Republican delegates gather for convention

May 11, 2012
By TREENA SHAPIRO , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Hawaii Republicans will be electing new national committee representatives at the state convention being held today and Saturday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Otherwise, party leaders expect the focus to be primarily local, with just a video clip sent over from the national GOP.

If all goes as planned, electing delegates to the national convention should be straightforward. In March, the Hawaii GOP held its first formal and binding presidential caucus. The results bound all but three of Hawaii's 20 delegates to presidential candidates in proportion to their share of the vote.

However, that was also the case in Maine and Nevada, where U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's campaign managed to take bound delegates from frontrunner Mitt Romney.

"I believe that there's not much of a chance of that happening here," said Hawaii GOP Executive Director Nacia Blom. She explained that all but Hawaii's three superdelegates are already pledged. "We were given the numbers and we already know (how the count will turn out)."

Two of the three superdelegates - the national committeeman and national committeewoman - will be elected at the state convention, even though National Committeeman Ted Liu was just recently elected, Blom said.

Neither Paul's national or local campaign could immediately be reached for comment. The Texas congressman has a loyal following in Hawaii and his supporters voiced frustration four years ago when Paul wasn't given the same attention as then-presumptive nominee John McCain. They are likely to once again show up to support their candidate.

Blom said the convention's focus will be largely on state races. Mandatory redistricting means all state lawmakers must run this year to stay in office. That could open the door for Republican caucus numbers to grow at the Legislature. Currently the 51-member House has eight Republicans. The 25-member Senate has only one.

Hawaii Republicans also have their eyes on seats at the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka is retiring at the end of this term, offering hopefuls the rare chance at an open seat. On the Republican side, former Gov. Linda Lingle is expected to be a serious contender. Both she and her primary opponent - former Air Force and commercial pilot John Carroll - will appear at the convention.

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou will also be present. Djou, who was elected briefly to represent Hawaii's 1st Congressional District in a 2010 special election, has thrown his hat into the ring again to win a full term. The seat is held by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat who defeated Djou in the last general election.



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