Sending Royalty To Washington

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - June 28, 2006

Quentin Kawananakoa sees the unwillingness of Senate Republicans to allow the Akaka Bill to be voted on on the Senate floor as the principal reason why the voters of the 2nd Congressional District should send him to Washington.

“Hawaii is at a crossroads the likes of which we have not seen since 1959 and statehood,” says Kawananakoa. “We have no voice in the Republican caucus in either the House or the Senate. In the congressional caucus, a Republican congressman from Maine learns what he needs to know about Hawaii from a Republican congressman from Texas.

“The Republicans who voted against cloture were not bad people. Hawaii just isn’t on their radar. We’re an afterthought. If a Republican had been in Hawaii’s congressional delegation, the vote would have been different. Things are so divided in D.C., Hawaii needs someone in the other camp.

“Linda Lingle tried to go up and help, but she was on the ground for 36 hours. We need someone camped there every day. Hawaii must send a young Republican to Congress to safeguard Hawaii’s interests and bring balance to the congressional delegation.

“I’m 44 years old. I have longevity on my side. I can serve 30-40 years in Congress, building up seniority.”

But Kawananakoa feels that he has more than youth going for him. He has lineage as well: Kawananakoa boasts the most impressive array of ancestors in Hawaii politics.

Kawananakoa’s great-granduncle, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, served from 1903 to 1922 as the Islands’ second delegate-to-Congress. Kuhio’s acceptance of the Republican Party’s candidacy for the delegateship forged the haole-Hawaiian alliance that dominated territorial politics until 1954.

The family’s political influence was bipartisan. Kawananakoa’s great-grandfather, Prince David Kawananakoa, at one time chaired the territorial Democratic Party. During the brief period of the Republic of Hawaii, both Kuhio and Kawananakoa had participated in armed attempts to restore Queen Liliuokalani to the throne.

Prince David Kawananakoa married Abigail Campbell, daughter of James Campbell, one of the largest landowners in Hawaii. That marriage added gold to Kawananakoa’s golden name. The Campbell Estate will be dissolved next year, and press reports say that Quentin Kawananakoa will walk away with $25 million in payout and shares in the new private company that will emerge.

Kawananakoa sees his wealth as a reason for Republicans to support his candidacy in the party’s primary.

“This is the grand prize between Democrats and Republicans in Hawaii this year,” he says. “Gov. Lingle should win her race easily, and the U.S. Senate contest will be in the Democratic primary. But the 2nd District race will be hotly contested, and we need the resources to fight it. I’m committed to raise and spend $1 million on this campaign.”

Kawananakoa lists housing, education and the environment as issues with which he’s primarily concerned.

“We’re at a critical point for the people of Hawaii. I’d like to see federal surplus lands made available for rental housing or for 99-year leases.

“When it comes to education, we need a Republican voice that can tell the administration that Hawaii is not Idaho. It’s different out here, and No Child Left Behind doesn’t fit all that well.

“And we must protect our environment. Our economy is based on the attractiveness of our culture and our environment.

We must clearly voice our concerns on environmental issues in Congress.”

Kawananakoa is making his second run for Congress. In 1998, at the end of his second two-year term in the state House, he launched a bid for the 1st District Congressional seat held by Neil Abercrombie. But Kawananakoa pulled out of the race for health reasons.

A graduate of Punahou, the University of Southern California and the University of Hawaii School of Law, Kawananakoa has devoted the last nine years to his family, wife Elizabeth and two sons, ages 9 and 6, and the transition of the Campbell family estate to a private company.

“It will be the largest privately held company in the state,” says Kawananakoa.

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