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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 8:25 a.m., Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hawaii Republicans prepare to 'vote' for president

Associated Press

HONOLULU — Hawai'i will begin doing its part in selecting the next U.S. president Friday, when the state Republican Party starts picking its delegates.

Voters in Hawai'i make their presidential preference differently from states that hold presidential primaries.

The Republican Party will hold 51 caucuses, one for each state district, statewide Friday through Feb. 7.

"At those caucuses you don't vote directly on a (presidential) nominee," said Dylan Nonaka, chairman for Big Island Republicans. "You vote for delegates who will attend the state convention and the national convention."

Local Republican voters will select delegates to the party's state convention set for May 16-18, where Hawai'i's 19 delegates to the party's national convention will be chosen.

Those delegates will likely back the candidate who receives the most support from island voters, although technically they're "uncommitted," Nonaka said.

"It makes Hawai'i unique and irrelevant," he said. "You can't really count on Hawai'i's (GOP) support because there's no election that commits the delegates to a certain candidate."

But Hawai'i could become important if the presidential nominee still hasn't been decided by the Sept. 1-4 Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Hawai'i Democrats decide on their presidential candidate differently.

They hold a statewide "presidential preference poll" on Feb. 19, while at the same time electing delegates to the party's state convention set for May 23-25.

The Hawai'i Democratic Party will choose 29 delegates to send to the national convention Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

Those delegates will mirror the support Hawai'i Democrats gave in the presidential preference poll to each of the party's candidates, except for the state's four Democratic members of Congress, who may vote for whomever they want.

Hawai'i Democrats could play a pivotal role if the nomination is in doubt.

"At this point, there's no clear-cut winner," said John Buckstead, Hawai'i County Democratic Party chairman. "It may come down to 29 votes."

John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are among the top Republican contenders.

Democrats are choosing between leaders Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, www.hilohawaiitribune.com