Big Island Republicans look ahead to general election


Editor’s note: This story appeared in the Aug. 11 edition.

By HUNTER BISHOP

Tribune-Herald Staff writer

While Democrats whooped it up at Mo‘oheau Bandstand on Friday night before today’s primary election, Republican candidates campaigned in a quieter manner.

The GOP Chairman for Hawaii County, Daryl Lee Smith of Volcano, said nothing special was planned Friday to rival the traditional Democratic gathering on the Big Island, while Republican Party candidates continued to sign-wave and make telephone calls to potential voters on the last full day of campaigning before today’s statewide primary election.

Smith, who is also running uncontested in the primary for the Republican nomination in the state Senate District 2 race, said he expected to be helping other GOP candidates by making last-minute calls to voters himself on Friday night.

Smith said the GOP pulled together a rally of sorts two years ago. About 300 people attended, but that was the last one. “Nobody’s doing anything this year,” he said.

Veteran GOP campaigner Andy Smith (unrelated to Daryl), said the big Democratic rally “really doesn’t make a difference to us.”

“We meet with our supporters all the time,” said Smith, who’s working exclusively this year on the U.S. Senate campaign of former GOP Gov. Linda Lingle. The Lingle campaign staged sign-waving events Friday afternoon in Hilo and Kona, and most of the island’s GOP candidates will be gathering at Lingle headquarters in Hilo and Kona tonight to watch the primary election returns roll in, he said. “We’re keeping it local.”

Daryl Smith, meanwhile, said he’s worked on 17 Democratic campaigns beginning in the mid-1980s and has worked on 18 Republican campaigns since switching parties. He said it’s unusual for the party chair to run for office and that it’s difficult balancing the needs of his personal campaign with that of fellow GOP candidates. “I have everybody working on other people’s races,” Smith said of his GOP volunteers, “and not a single person not working on a race.”

“My campaign doesn’t start until Sunday,” Smith said, adding that he didn’t know who his Democratic opponent will be in the race leading up to the general election in November. But Smith said a couple of Democrats — he didn’t say which ones — pledged their support to him in the general election if they don’t get the nomination themselves. The Democratic Party primary for the state Senate District 2 race includes Bob Herkes, Wendell Ka‘ehu‘ae‘a, Russell Ruderman and Gary Safarik.

Daryl Smith, 59, GOP party chairman for the past six years, said he planned to sleep in this morning so he could stay awake late tonight as the final election returns are reported.

Lingle is being opposed in today’s primary by Republicans John Carroll, Charles Collins, Eddie Pirkowski and John Roco. Nevertheless, Andy Smith expects Lingle to win the nomination handily. “We’ll be ramping up (the campaign) Sunday,” he said. “You’ll start seeing banners and signs for Lingle going up. This is a marathon.”

The former governor’s current Big Island campaign chairman said he hasn’t lent his experience to other GOP candidates during the primary campaign, spending time instead organizing “every House district and precinct.”

He said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the amount of support firming up for his candidate in traditionally Democratic East Hawaii.

 

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