With little fanfare, Molokai is holding its first-ever Republican Party caucus today from 6-8 p.m. at Molokai Burger in Kaunakakai.
Today’s caucus represents the first time the state of Hawaii has gone away from straw polling. The hope is that a caucus system will energize the party and build membership.
With no press releases or notices from a Maui County Republican group, the president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, Rob Stephenson, was contacted for this story.
“As far as an organized Republican group, I’m not sure there is one here on Molokai,” wrote Stephenson.
Molokai has four Republican precincts under District 13, Precincts 13-4, 13-8, 13-9, 13-10 and 13-11, which includes Kalaupapa.
Registered Republicans can vote for Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum to be the Republican nominee for president. To participate, all voters must show photo ID. Every voter will be required to fill out a Hawaii Republican Party card in order to participate.
Since Hawaii is so heavily Democratic, and Hawaii’s caucus process for Republicans is untested, “it’s impossible to know how many people are going to show up,” said Hawaii Republican Party Chairman David Chang, who arrived at an estimate of 5,000-7,000 participants because caucuses historically attract about 30 percent of party members.
Hawaii has about 17,000 to 20,000 Republican households.
While none of the presidential candidates have visited Hawaii yet, all four frontrunners do have a presence on the islands in hopes of gaining the state’s 20 delegates.
Romney reached out to Hawaii voters through a conference call from Florida on Friday. Ronnie Paul, Jr., along with his father’s national campaign manager John Tate, launched the Texas Congressman’s Hawaii campaign at the Hilton Alana Waikiki Hotel on Saturday. Elizabeth Santorum has also been visible around Oahu, where she’s spent time sign-waving during rush hour and meeting with voters.