Former Congresswoman Pat Saiki has been tapped to lead the Hawaii Republican Party.

She replaces David Chang as the next chair during a time of continued Democratic domination. Chang, an intelligence officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard, is being deployed.

Saiki, 83, said Thursday that she’s well aware of the challenges her party faces but believes there’s an opportunity in adversity.

“My job as state party chairman is to make sure the Hawaii Republican Party offers voters a clear and convincing choice — about its candidates; about its values; about its vision for a Hawaii that includes a vigorous, growing economy and opportunity for all,” she said in a statement.

Saiki was state GOP chair for two years in the early 1980s. Her bio says she oversaw a threefold expansion in party membership and helped the party raise $800,000 during her tenure.

She went on to represent urban Oahu in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. Her congressional bio says Saiki supporters temporarily registered as Democrats to give Mufi Hannemann, described as a “32-year-old corporate lobbyist” at the time, a narrow win over Neil Abercrombie in the 1986 primary election.

Saiki is viewed as fiscally conservative, but more liberal when it comes to social issues. She supports women’s reproductive freedom.

Socially conservative Republicans are worried about Saiki’s views on social issues. 

The Hawaii Republican Assembly sent out an email blast Thursday expressing a litany of concerns over Saiki, but wished her the best. The group noted that Chang was the second consecutive party chair whose term of office ended early. 

The group also presented a graphic showing that the number of elected Republicans in state office has steadily declined from 25 in 1998 to eight in 2012.

Nathan Eagle

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Photo: Pat Saiki. (Hawaii Republican Party)

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