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Democratic Party of Hawaii Votes to Accept Former Republican Representative Fukumoto Into Party

On Saturday June 17th, members of the O‘ahu County Committee (OCC) of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) voted unanimously to accept the application of Representative Beth Fukumoto to become a member of the DPH.

The vote comes as the final step in a process required by party bylaws for elected officials switching parties and after several meetings with Rep. Fukumoto, including one-on-one discussions with elected members of the party as well as State Chair Tim Vandeveer, the OCC Executive Committee, and DPH caucus members.

Dr. Rich Halverson, Chair of the O‘ahu County Committee stated “though talk of Rep. Fukumoto’s request to become a Democrat has been ongoing for months, we received her formal application less than one month ago. We were pleased to meet with Rep. Fukumoto and take this vote in a way that we felt was timely and inclusive for everyone involved.”

Of the vote, DPH State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer said “we have maintained from the beginning that we would ensure Rep. Fukumoto a fair process and that should things align and unfold accordingly, we in Democratic leadership would welcome her in. I applaud the O‘ahu County Committee for their work.”

“I firmly believed that our Party should hold Rep. Fukumoto to no stricter an ideological standard than anyone else with a ‘D’ behind their name that currently sits in the big square building” explained Vandeveer. “While I agree with the notion that we should seek to elect better Democrats and not just more Democrats, I also understand that we are a ‘big tent’ party that is welcoming of many different ideas and viewpoints. This is the balance that confronts us.”

Of the process, Rep. Fukumoto said “(Saturday)’s vote was the result of weeks of meetings and conversations with Democratic Party members about our mutual goals, passions, and how we can work together to make a better life for the people of Hawai‘i. I got involved in politics with the goal of making Hawai‘i more affordable for local families, and I’m looking forward to doing that work with the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.”

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