KANEOHE – Kawika Crowley, the Republican running for U.S. House District 2 in November, is quite possibly the state’s most interesting politician in 2014.
The 60-year-old native Hawaiian smokes cigars and fights for smokers’ rights, his home and campaign headquarters are in his 1995 Plymouth Voyager, and in heavily unionized, blue Hawaii, he’s unabashedly an advocate for the free market and conservative causes.
Crowley also is passionate about showing his patriotism, ensuring the U.S. military are honored and the victims of 9-11 aren’t forgotten — he spends the 11th day of each month on the side of the road with signs that remind passersby not to forget the victims of the terrorist attacks.
Crowley says he will give half of his congressional salary to the Wounded Warrior project if he’s elected.
Taking on popular incumbent U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a well-financed war veteran, won’t be easy, but Crowley has just scored a major endorsement from the Maui Chamber of Commerce, something he said will help to kick off his campaign.
Hawaii’s most famous radio broadcaster, Michael W. Perry of KSSK’s Perry & Price Morning Show, has known Crowley through the years, and worked together with him on commercials.
“Kawika is the most unusual political candidate in Hawaii because he does not fit the politician mold at all, but he is very dedicated and a great guy,” Perry said.
While he’s gained notoriety for being homeless, Crowley said he has a “home on wheels”, and plans eventually to return to Hawaii Island and buy a home where housing prices are more affordable that Oahu.
One of his passions is cutting government spending. He said Washington D.C. has become dysfunctional.
“We are at present suffering from a huge epidemic in Washington…it is called ‘obese big government.’ It is a government out of control, drunk on the Kool-Aid of big spending,” Crowley said.
The Affordable Care Act is a “disaster” Crowley said, warning the “VA fiasco and disaster is a microcosm of what is to come with Obamacare.”
“There is one regulation after another affecting every aspect of our lives. And now, for the first time in our country’s 240-year history as a nation, government has mandated that every citizen be forced to purchase a product or face a penalty. If I am elected, you can count on me to do every thing possible to repeal Obamacare,” Crowley said.
One position Crowley takes that’s contrary to most conservatives in the islands, he supports a native Hawaiian sovereignty and the creation of a Hawaiian nation operating within the state.
The proposal originally pushed by the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye has repeated failed in Congress for more than a decade, but the controversial movement continues among some native Hawaiian groups.
“If elected, I will convince both Congress and the president to mandate 200,000 acres towards the new Hawaiian Nation, specifically the South Point region of Hawaii Island. Hawaii Island is made up of 2.5 million acres, much of it barren, sitting unused, especially after the sugar downfall. In 10 to 20 years I see a vibrant nation with trade and financial treaties with dozens of nations across the world. That would be an explosion for the Hawaii economy for years to come.”
Crowley, who beat out a primary opponent in 2014, also ran for Congress in 2012 against Gabbard, and garnered more than 40,000 votes. Before that, in 1991, he made history as the first Hawaii County mayoral candidate to enter the general election as an independent.
At the state Capitol, Crowley has been the driving force for the past six years to undo Hawaii’s strict smoking ban, which he said hurts businesses. He represents over 150 small businesses affiliated with the Hawaii Bar Owners Association.
“We have been trying to push through legislation that would simply allow smoking exemptions for bars requesting one. Nevada just amended their smoking ban, and we are confident Hawaii will do as well, as early as next year,” Crowley said.
Government’s binge on banning must also come to an end, Crowley said.
Crowley was born in Japan and raised on Hawaii Island. He considers himself a dedicated family man and raised three children on his own.
A well-known songwriter and music producer, he’s won numerous awards in the music industry and is best known for writing the song Hawaii 78.
He’s currently a “handyman,” but has worked as a teacher, radio and television personality, a stand-up comedian and in the advertising industry.