Hawaii’s Republicans responded on one of their leaders participating in the recent Women’s March in Honolulu by stripping one of their best and brightest, State House of Representatives Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto. Fukumoto, who maintains her seat, also critcized President Donald Trump during the March–an action that “party-first” Republicians just could not abide.
The 33-year old Fukumoto was confronted by members of the Republican Caucus who demanded that she commit to not criticizing Donald Trump under any circumstances. When she refused, she was ousted from her leadership role.
“What ended up being very problematic for me was that my caucus and others said, ‘If you want to stay in leadership, then you need to make a commitment to not criticize the president for the remainder of his term,’” Fukumoto said. “And with what we’ve been seeing in the news with the different executive orders coming out every day, I didn’t believe I could make that commitment.”
During an ensuing House floor session, she stated. “I believe it is our job as Americans and as leaders of this body to criticize power when power is wrong,”
In the aftermath, Fukumoto is considering joining the Democratic Party. Conscious of her responsibility to those who voted for her, she has contacted her constituents in order to hear their input and opinions.
“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Fukumoto said today in a news release. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.”
“This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party,” Fukumoto said. “When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.”
Predictably, Republican leaders resent Fukumoto’s putting morals above Party loyalty. Hawaii Republican Party Chair Fritz Rohlfing demanded that if Fukumoto chooses to leave the party three months after being re-elected as a Republican, she must immediately resign from her seat entirely so the GOP could have time to propose replacements to Gov. David Ige.