This is a transcript of the remarks made by Lt. Gov. James ‘Duke’ Aiona, R-Hawaii, at the Hawaii GOP State Convention Saturday, May 15. Former Democratic State Senator David Matsuura introduced Lt. Governor Aiona to the supportive crowd and crossed party lines to endorse his 2010 campaign for Governor. Photos of the event can be found on Duke Aiona’s Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeaiona/
Governor Lingle, convention delegates, our honored guests and my fellow Republicans, good morning and aloha mai kakou. Aloha.
To our party chairman Jonah Ka`auwai and the dedicated staff and volunteers of the Hawai`i Republican Party, I would like to express a big, big mahalo for a great job in putting together this wonderful convention. Can you give them a big round of applause?
My friends, this is my last convention as your Lieutenant Governor, and I want you to know that it has been a tremendous honor and privilege for both myself and my family to serve and represent you – the people of Hawai`i – and Governor Lingle for the last seven plus years.
And speaking of my family, I would like to recognize my wife Vivian standing next to me. She has been a great partner. Believe me, I couldn’t have done this without her and the rest of the supporting staff, and I have three of them here.
First and foremost, our oldest son Makana. Next, the splitting image of her mother, the personality of her father – and I won’t tell you her nickname – our daughter `Ohulani. Our third child is away right now. I believe he’s in the middle of his finals, at least that’s what he told me. He’s up at Champman University right now, and that’s our boy Kuli`a Aiona. And last but not least, the baby of the family, and as Viv says so lovingly when we started in public office when Ka`ima was about 10 years old, she had fatty cheeks. I want you to know today is her 18th birthday. You’ve got to have love to spend your 18th birthday with your dad on stage at a political event, especially when in two weeks she will be graduating from Maryknoll High School, our loving daughter Ka`imi.
I couldn’t have done it without them.
But next year, with your continued support, hard work and vote, I will return to this convention floor as the next Governor of the great State of Hawai`i.
Now, before I go any further, I would like to extend a special thank you – mahalo – to former Democratic State Senator David Matsuura for his kind and humbling introduction. David, I want you to know I’m so grateful for your support and your endorsement of our gubernatorial campaign.
It certainly took a lot of courage for David to come up here and get in front of a room full of die-hard Republicans. But it took even more courage for David to stand up for what he believes is right.
You know, David wants what we all want deep in our hearts, and that is what is best for Hawai`i. But, like David, we have to be willing to stand up for our beliefs to ensure a brighter future for our state.
As I meet with families, small business owners and concerned citizens across our state, I have seen firsthand the innovative spirit and can-do attitude that defines Hawai`i from within.
It is in moments like these that I am reaffirmed in my belief that our best days still lie ahead.
However, in private conversations and whispers amongst friends, I have seen a troubling undercurrent that has the potential to cripple our government and hold our people back over the long term.
Many people across our state – whether they are in the business community, political circles, or areas dependent in part on government support – are afraid.
They are afraid for their jobs and afraid for their families – if they come out and publicly support a Republican for Governor.
These are good, upstanding people who are afraid of facing retribution for standing up to the political machine that has dominated Hawai`i elections for decades.
Now, you and I know that this is old news. We faced these fears in the past, and we overcame them in 2002 to give Hawai`i a new beginning. And we came back in 2006 to push past them once again and move Hawai`i forward.
This system, based on fear and intimidation, is not something we can allow to remain and fester. It is something we must overcome. We must climb that hill again, and I want to remind you that it’s not going to be easy.
But fortunately, we are not alone. We have each other, our families, our friends and communities.
We have our party and independent-minded voters who want a balanced, efficient and accountable government. In short, we have the collective will of the people, and our time has come.
Over a year ago, I stood before you at the state convention on Hawai`i Island.
At the time, our party was still reeling from a bitter defeat at the polls, and we were going through a process of self-evaluation.
When I spoke to the delegates, I refuted the claim that we needed to be more like Democrats to win elections.
It was my contention that we had gotten away from our core principles and values, and that if we stuck to these time tested values of limited, more efficient government, lower taxes and more personal freedom, we could and we would win more elections in Hawai`i.
We just needed to be patient as we waited for the next swell that we were going to ride all the way to shore on our next Election Day.
Well, my friends, that swell has been taking shape ever since. The wave began in Washington, D.C. in response to the out-of-control spending, government bailouts and a political party that lost its way.
It grew and moved across the Democratic stronghold of Massachusetts with the election of Scott Brown to the United States Congress. And it has swept across the country and made its way here to Hawai`i.
On May 22, the media pundits who wrote off Republicans in 2008 and the political hacks who continued to play from the politics-as-usual playbook are going to swallow hard when they announce Charles Djou as our next Congressman.
Like all of you, I have no doubt that Charles will represent Hawai`i’s citizens with honor and distinction. And we must give him our full support.
His election will immediately give the people of Hawai`i a strong, principled voice in Washington by putting working families first and creating jobs that will help get our economy back on the right track.
And let us not forget that we have one of my potential opponents to thank for his ill-timed and costly resignation from Congress in rallying our people to believe again in the power of their vote.
He pulled the trigger on this special election at a time when we could least afford it, and called to action our citizens who are tired of being marginalized and taken for granted.
With a Republican-led administration, we have provided a balancing force to the old guard of Hawai`i politics. We have had debates on critical issues where there were none in the past.
On taxes, education, spending, collective bargaining, regulations and red tape, and many more, we have brought fresh ideas and innovative solutions to lasting issues.
We have built and opened homeless shelters and transitional housing projects throughout the state when some simply tried to pass the buck onto others, but we knew that providing the most needy among us with an opportunity to get back on their feet was the right thing to do.
We made great strides to diversify and expand our economy through international partnerships with China, Korea, Japan and other countries, and we are transforming our state into a worldwide model for clean energy security and sustainability.
We have strengthened at-risk families and reduced the number of children in foster care by 50 percent, while achieving one of the nation’s lowest child re-abuse rates.
We have expanded science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs throughout the state, and helped to hold our struggling public education system accountable for its lack of progress.
We have dramatically cut fees and assessments for businesses and consumers and gradually improved a local business climate that Forbes Magazine gave the dubious distinction in 2002 as being “equivalent to suicide.”
But these are just a few examples, and we cannot stop now.
We cannot hold our state and our people back any longer by allowing the Democrat political machine to put a rubber stamp in the Governor’s Office.
We cannot allow either of my potential opponents who are beholden to big money special interests and union leaders to make critical public policy decisions for our future.
With your support and your vote, we will cut fees, streamline regulations and remove unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. We will accelerate private sector job creation and prioritize spending.
We will conduct a comprehensive, independent audit of the Department of Education and ensure funding is spent at the school-student level.
We will expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs statewide and prepare our students for a global economy based on knowledge and innovation.
We will create a globally competitive tax environment based on fair and equal treatment.
We will invest in information technology and transparent government, and keep Hawai`i on pace to generate 70 percent or more clean energy by 2030.
As Governor, I will push forward your cause and put the full weight and support of the Executive Branch of government behind you, your family and your community. I commit right now to make my decisions in the best interests of our citizens.
For government to work properly, we need checks and balances.
As a former state judge, I know there are two sides to every story. I know that the best decision isn’t always the easiest or politically expedient. I pride myself on being a dispassionate, impartial decision maker, and I judge every case on its merit.
Well, let me tell you that there’s no merit in a State Legislature that had put a priority on job creation, but could not bring itself to pass legislation that would actually create jobs.
There is no merit in circumventing the will of the people through last-minute political maneuvering to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage.
And there is no merit in passing the fiscal responsibility of a balanced budget onto our citizens by raising taxes and increasing the financial burden on our working families and small businesses.
These professional politicians have sacrificed our long-term future for their short-term political gain.
On jobs, the economy, and education, the political machine has made bad decision after bad decision – for decades – and they will continue to do so until we rise up as a community to stop them.
My friends, your voice and your vote is key to our future. And it is time now to stand up.
Stand up for yourself, stand up for your beliefs, stand up for your family, stand up for your community, stand up for Hawai`i, stand up for our future, stand up now.
And let’s send them a unified message – that we are taking personal responsibility for our decisions.
My friends, 2010 is our year. It’s our time, and we’re not going to let the partisan politics – or special interests – or fear get in our way.
I ask you now to join me, join us and rise up with your vote to make a difference for the Hawai`i we love.
Join us and let’s resolve the challenges of today to set a new course for tomorrow.
Mahalo and God bless you all.