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As of this writing it’s still not clear which Democratic presidential candidate won Iowa, but the biggest loser of the night was certainly Iowa itself.
A partial caucus recanvassing has begun at the request of neck-and-neck frontrunners Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. The local party chair has quit and practically everybody outside of Iowa thinks the state should relinquish its honor of holding the first election contest.
The New Hampshire primary fared better, unless your last name was Warren or Biden. The surviving candidates are now hustling for votes in Nevada (which has its caucus Feb. 22) and South Carolina (which has its primary Feb. 29).
But it is the momentum that comes out of the first two election states — both small and non-representative of America — that makes the most difference in determining who the rest of us will get to choose from.
By the time Super Tuesday rolls around on March 3, when states such as Texas, Minnesota, North Carolina and California finally have their say, there will be only a few folks to pick from. Intriguing candidates such as Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Steve Bullock and Jay Inslee bailed before a vote was even cast.
If you’re happy with the status quo, read no further.
But if you are willing to consider a major change to the way we pick the president of the United States, here’s why Hawaii should be the first in the nation to winnow the winners and losers.
More than 10 million (gasp!) tourists visited last year. There’s lots of hotels (although fewer Airbnbs than before). Southwest Airlines flies here now. Candidates can learn to surf, take selfies at Hanauma Bay, pay respects at the Arizona Memorial and guzzle a $14 mai tai (“made with aloha,” according to its website) at Duke’s Waikiki. Bonus attraction: the Punahou Carnival is held in February, just a few blocks from Barack Obama’s alleged birth site.
Even in February the Aloha State’s average daytime high temperatures range between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime may dip to 63 to 66 degrees. The Hawkeye State’s average highs in the same month are in the 30s, and the lows in the teens. The Granite State is even chillier. Come here and canvass in slippahs and shorts!
While that’s a shameful thing, it could be quite advantageous to presidential candidates because they would only need to collect a modest amount of votes to win or place second or third. A couple of hours shaking hands and kissing keiki and hugging kupuna at Ala Moana Center should do the trick. No need to rally at the Mooheau Bandstand in Hilo.
That means presidential wannabes who campaign in our state will not have to eat a corn dog, or a turkey leg, or a deep-fried Twinkie, or a grilled pork chop on a stick, or a Rocky Mountain Oyster. Nor will they be tempted to don cowboy boots and dad or mom jeans. There will be no visit to a sculpted Butter Cow. And there will be no promises of supporting ethanol. Instead, enjoy our malasadas and shave ice!
Just think of all the tax revenue that would come if we held the nation’s first primary! Gobs and gobs of GET and TAT. Billionaires like Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer would no doubt drop some serious coin on political advertising on TV, in print, on the radio and online. And just think of all the T-shirts and signs and swag to be produced!
Imagine if Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and all the GOP candidates from four years ago had to spend major time asking for votes in Hawaii. The Hawaii Republican Party, which has oft struggled to field strong candidates for Congress, the governorship and the Legislature, might see its appeal increase and give the state an actual two-party system. And just think of the fun of maybe seeing Rand Paul or Ben Carson sign-waving along Kalanianaole Highway!
Local folks would be interviewed by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity and David Muir. Political junkies like me would be interviewed by international news organizations. CNN’s John King and MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki would break down the state precinct to precinct. “Still waiting for results from Laie, which historically trends conservative,” they’d say on election night. “But first, let’s hear from former Gov. Neil Abercrombie and former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.”
Nine out of every 10 persons in Iowa are white, and there are even fewer people of color in New Hampshire. In Hawaii, by contrast, whites make up about one-fourth of a population that is among the most diverse in the nation. Is it a coincidence that the top five Democrats still in the running — Bernie, Pete, Amy, Joe and Elizabeth — are white?
The state with the largest electoral votes (55) could see a payoff from the state with nearly the fewest (four, which is the same as New Hampshire’s and not far behind the six for Iowa). Candidates competing in Hawaii would almost certainly squeeze in rallies and fundraisers in the Golden State on their many trips west.
We haven’t seen our congresswoman much over the past 13 months. (The same goes for the U.S. House of Representatives.) We understand she rented an apartment in New Hampshire for a spell. Press releases tell us she’s now in South Carolina, even though she finished tied (that is, with zero delegates) for eighth place in Iowa with three other candidates who are now no longer in the race (Michael Bennet, John Delaney and Deval Patrick), and finished seventh in New Hampshire, just ahead of Andrew Yang, who promptly dropped out.
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