In just 177 days, the Hawaii Republican Party will know whether it will finally make real inroads in a state dominated by Democrats, or remain mired in the minority.
On the plus side are brand names like Linda Lingle and Charles Djou for the U.S. Congress and a big slate of candidates for the Hawaii Legislature that includes many who waged efforts in 2010. A younger generation of leaders has emerged, like party chair David Chang, 32, and his fiancée, Beth Fukumoto, 29, who is running for a legislative seat.
On the down side are limited financial resources, a native son of the other party running for re-election to the White House and a status quo-backed opposition party that has lost few races since 1954, the pre-statehood election that wrested power from Republicans and gave it to Democrats for the next six decades.
The mood at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's Tapa Ballroom Saturday was upbeat and passionate, with a sense that things may finally be turing a corner. There was also not a little anger at the policies of President Barack Obama, who most Republicans argue is leading the country into financial ruin and "a socialist direction," as one member put it.