HONOLULU – Former Congresswoman Pat Saiki will head the Hawaii GOP, Hawaii’s second largest political party announced today.
She replaces David Chang, who is being deployed for military exercises in the Pacific and North Africa.
“A few months ago, if you told me I’d be assuming the chairmanship of the Hawaii Republican Party I would have said you were nuts. The party was in good hands and I was enjoying playing golf with my girlfriends. But when David Chang told me he was being deployed in service to our country, and he asked me to step in, I couldn’t say no. Not when it concerned a political party that has been my home for five decades,” Saiki said.
Saiki has headed the party before and has had extensive experience in Hawaii politics.
The former school teacher was elected to the first Constitution Convention after statehood in 1968. She was elected to the State House of Representatives later that year, beginning her 14-year tenure in the State House and Senate.
She assumed the chairmanship of the Hawaii Republican Party in 1982 and more than two years before being elected to U.S. Congress, where she served two terms.
After running for U.S. Senate, Saiki was appointed by President George H. W. Bush as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1990.
Saiki has also served as an instructor at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is the widow of Stanley M. Saiki, M.D. and the mother of five children.
“One of the main reasons I got involved in politics in the late 1960s was because I believed Hawaii benefits from a strong two-party system. We make better laws, we keep the system focused on the true will of the people when there are vigorous debates and real give-and-take when determining what’s best for our state and country. I believed that then, and I believe that today,” Saiki said. “Yes, I’ve served as chairman before, but this isn’t a “been there, done that” exercise for me. I’m excited about becoming directly involved again in the Hawaii Republican Party.”
The GOP has a minimal presence in Hawaii. Hawaii’s four congressional members and governor are Democrats, all but one Senator in the 25-member body are Democrats and all but 7 of the 51-member House are Democrats.
Hawaii’s only Republican governor since statehood, Linda Lingle, was elected to two terms, but lost her bid for U.S. Senate in 2012. Before her, the only other Republican governor was William Quinn, who oversaw the transition from a territory to statehood.
“It’s no secret that we’ve got our work cut out for us. But I’ve always believed that there’s opportunity in adversity, and I know our elected officials and our candidates offer Hawaii voters a real choice in this year’s elections,” Saiki said.
Saiki said the GOP has a proud record in Hawaii.
“Republicans have held the governorship twice; we’ve been elected to the US Senate and House; we’ve had many great leaders in our state Legislature, and in our counties,” Saiki said. “My job as state party chairman is to make sure the Hawaii Republican Party offers voters a clear and convincing choice – about its candidates; about its values; about its vision for a Hawaii that includes a vigorous, growing economy and opportunity for all. We begin that work in earnest starting today
FORMER REP. BARBARA MARUMOTO INTERVIEWS PAT SAIKI