Republican Leader in Hawaii Quits the Party and Becomes a Democrat Because She Can’t Support Trump

Hannah Al-Othman, Daily Mail, March 23, 2017

Rep. Beth Fukumoto

A Republican lawmaker in Hawaii has quit to join the Democrats, saying she cannot support President Donald Trump.

Rep. Beth Fukumoto, who says she was pressured to give up her leadership post at the statehouse after criticizing Trump, resigned from the GOP on Wednesday.

She tendered her resignation because she says GOP members refuse to oppose racism and sexism.

Rep. Fukumoto says she is hoping to become a Democrat but does not know whether the Democratic Party will accept her.

Fukumoto, one of Hawaii’s few elected Republicans, was asked to resign her post as House Minority Leader in February after criticizing Trump in a speech at the Women’s March in Honolulu.

She sought feedback from her constituents about leaving the Republicans and says three-quarters of the letters she received supported the move.

The 33-year-old was first elected in 2012 and is the youngest person to serve as the House Minority Leader.

Rep. Fukumoto, who represents the community in which she grew up, District 36: Mililani, Mililani Mauka, and Waipio Acres, is also the youngest person to serve as the House Minority Floor Leader and the Director of Research for the House Minority.

In 2013 she was was awarded the James Madison Fellowship by the Millennial Action Project for her demonstrated success in transcending partisan lines – despite facing opposition from Republican colleagues.

She was named by the Washington Post as one of the Top 40 under 40 Rising Political Stars, and recently, she was awarded the Aspen-Rodel Fellowship for demonstrating an outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions.

‘When I joined the Republican Party eight years ago, I did so with a group of people my age who were full of hope, ideas and energy,’ Fukumoto said in a news release.

‘We saw an opportunity to take a political party that was broken, in a political system that seemed rigged, and even the playing field. To us, Democrats represented the status quo.’

She went on to say that after serving in the Legislature, she discovered that there were Democrats also trying to bring about change, who she tried to co-operate with, but Republican partisanship ‘insisted I stop working with Democrats even when it clearly benefited the community.’

She continued: ‘The issues that I’ve had with the Republican Party are well-documented and to reiterate them now would be adding fuel to a fire that doesn’t need to keep burning.

‘It’s enough to say that my friends and I were wrong to think that a failing party could be changed just because we had the will to change it.

‘In the process of trying to make a party that spoke about issues that our communities cared about in a way that Hawaii’s voters wanted to listen to, my friends and I uncovered louder and more powerful voices that fought divergence, difference and diversity at every step. This election, those voices won.’

The Hawaii Republican Party has branded Rep. Fukumoto’s defection a betrayal, saying she should have resigned instead of switching parties, and allowed another Republican to fill the seat.

Chairman Fritz Rohlfing said in a statement: ‘Rep. Fukumoto’s decision to abandon the Hawaii Republican Party is unfortunate,’

‘I am extremely proud of how our Party welcomes and fosters voices from every background and I look forward to electing more Republicans in Hawaii as we move forward.’

Several Hawaii Democrats have already come out to support Fukumoto, but Hawaii Democratic Party leader Tim Vandeveer said some are wary of a Republican joining their ranks.

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