Bryan Jeremiah

HONOLULU — Bryan Earl Jeremiah has been campaigning as a Republican for state House District 41, but after learning he had an extensive criminal rap sheet, elected Republican leaders asked the 51-year-old on Wednesday to withdraw.

While people who know Jeremiah said he’s “turned his life around” and “found God” after becoming a Christian, Republican leaders said they didn’t believe his criminal past is “survivable” in an election.

Jeremiah has nine convictions in Hawaii between 1982 and 2002 for everything from drug dealing, drunk driving and robbery, to contempt of court and assault.

A check of Hawaii court records shows he’s served three prison sentences, the most recent being four days in prison in 2002 for “abuse of a household member,” his son.

In 1993, he was sentenced to five years in prison for a criminal drug distribution conviction, court records show, and in 1982, he was sentenced to a year in prison for robbery in the first degree.

“Mr. Jeremiah informed the Hawaii Republican Party (Thursday) that he is no longer a candidate. Therefore, we have no comment,” said Kayla Berube, executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party.

Jeremiah issued a statement on Friday saying:

I thank God that you can learned from your mistakes even if it takes a while to get it right. That one day you hope you can move forward. I made many mistakes as a young man and regret every one. I make no excuses for what I have done and I was very transparent about that. Unfortunately some of what was reported was not true. I have paid for these mistakes and I have learned that the choices we make will never truly leave us and often affect us for life. I really wanted to make a difference in our community and decided to run knowing there was a chance that my past would be brought up, but the idea of doing nothing was worse. Unfortunately the Republican Party felt that my past mistakes were too insurmountable an obstacle to overcome and I was informed that they would not endorse me or recognize me as a member of the party and so I was asked to withdraw from the race. So to honor the party and the people in our community I humbly withdrew as candidate. I have spent years trying to put the past behind and build a future for my family, and the opportunity to serve the people in my community and have their voices heard was so important I decided to run. I have been blessed beyond measure with a wonderful loving wife of 20 years, 5 awesome children and 4 grandchildren. I have had a wonderful career with a great company, was blessed to buy my own home, served the people in our community, worked for the government, and served in my church as an associate Pastor. I believed that we could make a difference in our community, and so did many others. My hope was that a changed man would find acceptance among his peers and opponents and be afforded an opportunity to represent his community with no other intention than the desire to make a difference. I am responsible for the action of my past and I understand that those actions have consequences. I thank the many who stood behind me and believed in me despite the past, those who know who I am today and not the man from the past. I apologies to my community if I have caused anyone grief and I thank my family for standing behind me.

As Jeremiah takes down his campaign signs, Republicans are scrambling to find a replacement candidate.

Rep. Rida Cabanilla
Rep. Rida Cabanilla

Still remaining in the race is House Majority floor leader Rida Cabanilla, D-Ewa, the district’s incumbent, who has been involved in her share of controversy.

Most recently, she was in the news for the $100,000 grant she secured from her peers at the Hawaii Legislature for her charity, which was out of compliance with the Internal Revenue Service when she was awarded the grant.

Cabanilla told Hawaii Reporter she wanted the money to hire six people to “weed whack” the grass at the historic cemetery, but critics of her plan said the cemetery already is under a city maintenance contract, which includes yard maintenance.

Cabanilla’s nonprofit is still in contention for the grant, which still must be approved by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Republican strategists believed Cabanilla could be defeated because of the negative publicity she received over her nonprofit grant and her widely criticized proposal earlier in the legislative session to export marijuana from Hawaii worldwide.