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A competition for a state House of Representatives seat was marked by negative mailers from a conservative Christian group. The mailers may have contributed to the loss of Democratic incumbent Marilyn Lee, one of the most liberal leaders in the Hawaii Legislature. Lee believes the mailers helped contribute to her loss to Republican Beth Fukumoto. But Fukumoto, a rising star in the Hawaii Republican Party , believes constituents support her efforts to increase dialogue and bipartisanship in state government. If confronted with similar mailings in the race, Lee said she will respond more aggressively to counter the attacks.
Fukumoto, who said she was not connected to the mailers in the campaign, reiterated that citizens have the right to be involved in the political process. The Lee-Fukumoto rematch — assuming both survive their respective party primaries — will test the assumption that Hawaii Republicans can make inro at the Legislature.
With the governorship and the congressional delegation virtually locked up by the Democratic Party of Hawaii , the local GOP believes targeting specific state House and Senate races is its best bet to have greater say in local governance. With the retirement of Barbara Marumoto last year and talk that Cynthia Thielen may be looking to step down after decades of service, a generational shift is apparent.
And yet, though they may have helped Joe Souki win back the speakership from Calvin Say , Republicans remain largely out of the power loop at the State Capitol. Johanson, Fukumoto and Co. Neil Abercrombie has called for Oct. By contrast, Lee, though on the sidelines, firmly supports a special session for same-sex marriage rights and would vote for its passage. Like Fukumoto, she was also first elected in , defeating Democrat Jake Brhaw. Some have said the same forces arrayed against Lee also targeted Brhaw.
Fukumoto won more comfortably, defeating Lee by 4. And Lee barely edged Republican Shaun Kawakami — by a mere. Kawakami, who was only 25 when he challenged Lee, is a conservative Christian who serves as youth director at Mililani Missionary Church. If Fukukmoto is part of the new Republican vanguard, Lee is a veteran of progressive Democratic politics focused on social issues. A former registered nurse, Lee was first elected in She served a four-year stint as Majority Floor Leader and was vice chairwoman of the all-important House Finance Committee until she left office.
She also serves on the Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women. The question for voters in Mililani and Mililani Mauka is, who best represents the district? It was one of several House districts that saw its political boundaries redrawn in Lee says her current district includes parts of her old district and so the two districts are still similar. Yet she also notes that there are more recent residents as opposed to long-term residents. That does not necessarily mean it is a younger district, said Lee; walking door to door, she has noticed lots of multigenerational families living under one roof.
Her district also includes developments for seniors. Fukumoto agrees that there are a lot of younger families living with or near their relatives in District She said that redistricting made the district smaller than when Lee represented it, yet added some new territory, too. Her background includes working for Rep. Fukumoto married Chang in July and uses her married name on her Facebook .
Maybe we are getting invited to different events. Fukumoto did allow that Lee was spending more time than her at neighborhood board meetings. But she defended her schedule, saying that her leadership duties and her position on the House Finance committee are demanding. Besides her role in leadership and consultation with majority Democrats, Fukumoto said her accomplishments include bringing capital improvement project money to the district. Lee, who lost her husband Sam Lee in February , is anxious to get back to unfinished legislative work, including taking care of seniors.
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