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Political Notebook

Republicans Hawaii-bound to work on strategy

Associated Press / January 25, 2010

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A high-tax, big-government Democratic bastion for five decades and President Obama’s birthplace, Hawaii would seem a curious place for the Republican National Committee to hold its winter meeting.

But riding high after Republican Scott Brown’s surprise victory in last week’s Senate race in another Democratic stronghold, Massachusetts, 168 RNC delegates will arrive Wednesday unconcerned about this isolated island state’s past political proclivities.

On the heels of Massachusetts plus GOP triumphs in New Jersey and Virginia governor’s races last fall, Republicans are invigorated after national elections that saw them lose control of Congress and then the White House. Yet the party faces deep internal divisions and other problems at the opening of the 2010 election season

Just like in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey, the GOP has tasted success in recent years in Hawaii in gubernatorial elections. In 2002, Hawaii elected Linda Lingle its first Republican governor since William Quinn in 1959, when statehood was granted. She was reelected by an almost 2-to-1 margin in 2006.

The gathering at one of Waikiki’s most prominent beachfront resorts will be a first for the RNC, which for years sidestepped requests by its Hawaii members to bring its winter meeting to a warm climate. “The concern was appearances,’’ said Travis Thompson of Maui, an RNC member from 2000 to 2008.

The lush, exotic locale doesn’t cover up polls showing that Republicans fare as poorly as Democrats at a time when candidates’ ticket for success with voters is distancing themselves from both parties. Conservatives backed by the anti-establishment “tea party’’ movement are challenging favored Republicans in House and Senate primaries across the country.

Some Republicans have said they also may demand a vote on a resolution to rebuke RNC chairman Michael Steele over his book and promotional tour for it. Steele, critical of the last two GOP presidents and the GOP nominee in 2008, wrote that Republicans lost their way during most of the years following President Ronald Reagan’s administration.

Others may propose resolutions that would bar party contributions to Republicans who don’t meet a conservative litmus test on a number of hot-button issues, including abortion, health care reform, climate change, and illegal immigration.

The resolutions would “address the need for the RNC to work to reestablish our conservative bona fides by ensuring that we only support candidates for office that are conservative,’’ said James Bopp, a lead supporter of the effort and an RNC vice chairman from Indiana.

McCain says ruling killed campaign finance reform
WASHINGTON - Senator John McCain said yesterday that the movement he led to reform how political campaigns are financed is dead because of last week’s Supreme Court ruling on election funding.

The Arizona Republican said the court has spoken on the constitutionality of political contributions by corporations. McCain had sought to regulate them with a landmark campaign finance law he wrote with Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat.

The justices ruled that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation,’’ McCain said there is not much that can be done about campaign financing now. Still, he predicts a backlash over time from voters once they see the amount of money that corporations and unions pour into political campaigns.

Obama shoots hoops with Malia and Sasha
President Obama is sharing his love of basketball with his children.

His daughters, Sasha, 8, and Malia, 11, spent about an hour and a half shooting hoops with their father yesterday morning at the Interior Department, just a few blocks from the White House. A day earlier, the president and his wife, Michelle, had watched Sasha play a basketball game at a community center in the Washington suburbs.