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Trump is so bad, Hawaii Republicans are leaving the party in droves

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI) is the latest to bolt

Former Rep. Charles Djou of Hawaii
Former Rep. Charles Djou of Hawaii in a 2009 file photo. CREDIT: Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images

In 2016, as Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump 48 percent to 46 percent in the popular vote nationwide, she held him to just 30 percent of the vote in Hawaii. Now, President Trump’s current approval rating in the Aloha State might be even lower than that. And with the administration pursuing nativist, anti-immigrant, racist policies and imperiling Hawaii’s existence via Twitter, his party has become quite toxic in a state with just a 25.8 percent white population.

So the Hawaii Republican Party, which held the governorship and one of the state’s two U.S. House seats as recently as 2010, is in deep trouble.  And on Monday, one of its biggest names announced he will no longer be a part of the party of Trump.

In a “community voice” opinion piece posted on Honolulu Civil Beat, former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, who represented Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District as a Republican from 2010 to 2011 and lost races as the GOP nominee for the seat in 2012 and 2014, wrote that he “can no longer stand with a Republican Party that is led by a man I firmly believe is taking the party of Lincoln in a direction I fundamentally disagree with, and a party that is unwilling to stand up to him.”

Djou, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, noted that Trump’s GOP “is now defined as a party hostile to immigration,” described Trump’s callous attacks on veterans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Gold Star mothers as “indicative of a man ignorant of honor and true sacrifice,” and lambasted his former party’s unwillingness to stand up to the president’s behavior. “Sadly today, too many Republicans either applaud Trump’s tirades or greet them with silent acceptance,” he added. “This leads to an implicit ratification by the GOP of Trump’s undisciplined, uninformed, and unfocused leadership as a core part of the Republican Party. This is something I cannot accept and will not be a part of.”

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Djou is just the latest Hawaii Republican to leave due to Trump and Trumpism’s hold on the GOP.  Last March, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto left the Republican Party over its treatment of women and Trump’s refusal to condemn the internment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Fukumoto was more than just a rising star in the Hawaii GOP — she had been the state’s House Minority Leader from 2014 until 2017. She is now a Democrat. This brought the number of Republicans in the 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives from 6 down to 5. Democrats also control every single seat in the 25-member Hawaii Senate.

Back in November, a Los Angeles Times article observed that the “Republican Party is almost extinct in Hawaii — and it’s only getting worse.” Explaining the party’s near-extinction, another Republican former U.S. Representative observed at the time that “the success of Republicans nationally has had little effect in Hawaii. If anything, it solidified the Democratic grip here.”

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In his 2016 victory speech, Trump pledged “to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”  His failure to even pretend to keep that promise may put the final nail in the coffin of his own party’s Hawaii branch.