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Q+A Brennon Morioka


The governor may belong to the Hawai'i Republican Party, but the state Legislature is still controlled by Democrats. As Republican Party chairman since 2003, Brennon Morioka does whatever he can to help GOP candidates win their upcoming races.

Q: What made you leave your job as a geotechnical engineer in private industry to work for the GOP?

A:[My predecessor] Micah Kane is one of my really good friends. I made the mistake once of opening my mouth at a party, telling him, "Give me a call anytime you need something." One thing led to another, and, in 2002, they brought me on as the finance director for the Party. I thought I was just going to take a leave from my job. It didn't work that way.

Q: Will the Republican Party really take over the House?

A:That's the main focus. We have 15 seats in the House, and we need three more to sustain a veto. We need 11 more to have a majority of the state House. It's a lofty goal, but if we don't get the 11 this year, there's another election two years from now.

Q: Do you get annoyed at how often the Legislature tries to squash Lingle's bills?

A:It's very frustrating. People voted for her because of those programs and Democrats continually fight them. It tells us that the Democrats aren't serving their own constituents.

Q: The Democrats got local entertainer Brickwood Galuteria to chair their party, former TV reporter Donalyn Dela Cruz to do its PR and comedian Andy Bumatai to coordinate volunteers. Any pressure on you to be more entertaining?

A:Not at all. [Democrats] have a vision of what it's going to take to rebuild their party. I don't think that PR stuff is gonna get people to vote for you. Our approach is to build a solid base of Republican voters based on our grassroots efforts.

Q: Why has the Hawai'i Republican Party conscientiously sidestepped certain issues considered divisive, namely abortion, in its platform?

A:You have just as many pro-choice Republicans as you have pro-life Republicans. I would say the same for the Democrats. An issue you cannot get consensus on is not an issue that you should fight over internally, because you're never gonna convince the other side.

Q: Your term as party chair is up next year. Any political aspirations of your own?

A:My wife would kill me if I were to ever run for public office. [But] I will always be involved, because I believe in what the Party has done. I'm looking for growth for the Party for the next 20, 30 years-that's how it started with the Democrats in the 1954 election.

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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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