It’s been hilarious for me and embarrassing for the Hawaii Republican Party to observe the brash, uncivil, email slugfest between factions of the local establishment GOP and those outliers who call themselves the Hawaii Republican Assembly (HIRA).

The latter was started by Eric Ryan, who seems to have disappeared off the stage. But HIRA is still very active. It claims to promote conservative GOP solutions to the state’s problems but then adds: “We are not an official arm of the disastrously mismanaged and RINO —hijacked Republican Party.”  RINO stands for Republican in name only.

Back almost five years ago, the State GOP tried to threaten HIRA into stopping use of the word “Republican.” The pre-lawsuit letter from the GOP’s attorney said:

“Recently, the Hawaii Republican Party became aware of your unauthorized use of the names “Republican Wing of the Republican Party”, “Hawaii Republican Assembly”, “Hawaii Republican Action” and the Republican Party “Elephant”. Your use of these names/marks — which clearly mimic the established names/marks of the Hawaii Republican Party — creates a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the public. Under both federal and Hawaii state law, trademark infringement occurs when someone utilizes a trade name or mark that creates a likelihood of consumer confusion.

“Your activities appear to be taking place in the same public sphere or “market” as those of the Hawaii Republican Party. Indeed, your activities appear to not only be competing for economic benefits including donations, in some cases they attempt to actively obstruct contributions to the Hawaii Republican Party.”

But the party’s national committee took a hands-off approach. It said “The RNC does not intend to bring any legal action against the Hawaii Republican Assembly.”

And added this: “The Hawaii Republican Party does not represent the Republican National Committee.” 

HIRA was ecstatic and sent out an email blast:


Republican National Committee (RNC)

Throws Hawaii GOP Under the Bus

Now, there’s a new fight in full mud-slinging development between party backer Mark Blackburn, who has supported Shirlene Ostrov as the state party chairwoman, and local Republicans who’ve been spearheading those “Open Hawaii Now!” protests against mandated closures due to COVID-19.

Blackburn sees HIRA behind the protests and posted this email summary:

“Their diatribes are filled with blasphemy, hate and vicious personal attacks denigrating everyone especially women, with hater in chief Eric Ryan and the likes of Anita, Brett, Steve [Hinton, GOP chairman for House District 45] and others calling our men and women in blue Nazi’s and worse by being supporters of this hate group.”

Hinton fired back: “Blasphemy you say? Congratulations, Mark. You have met the summit of Mount Hypocrisy, and it is yours.”

State Sen. Laura Thielen has had more than enough of the Blackburn-Hinton emails showering her computer — she’s a Democrat.

She emailed: “Can you guys please stop. You have gone way beyond humiliating yourselves. No one else is interested in your squabble. If you must continue, take the rest of us off this thread.”

This all puts heft behind a recent cartoon by John Pritchett somebody sent me. A reporter is asking a man on the street “what do you think of the Hawaii Republican Party” and the citizen replies “Never heard of it.”

People here have heard of it. They just don’t vote for it and the Blackburn-Hinton spat is another reason why.

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

2 replies on “When Elephants Fight”

  1. Just perfect! Now if Trump would fade away, too, along with McConnell and gang.

  2. Hawaii proverb: When the elephants fight, just ignore them until they go away. Or make some popcorn and have a beer.

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