Representative Beth Fukumoto was doing fine in her job as the House Minority leader in Hawaii’s statehouse. Being the top Republican in the state legislature has its perks, one of which is a broad audience for her speeches and opinions.
Those opinions got her into trouble in January, when she criticized the newly-inaugurated President Trump in a speech at a Women’s March rally in Honolulu. Representative Fukumoto says that shortly after her remarks were noticed by other Republicans, she was pressured into relinquishing her leadership role in the legislature.
Today, having solicited feedback from the constituents in her district, Fukumoto announced that she will be leaving the Republican Party for good. The reason, according to the Representative? Simply that the Republican Party members refuse to oppose Trump’s racism and sexism.
In her letter of resignation, Fukumoto said:
“This election, I saw members of my party marginalizing and condemning minorities, ethnic or otherwise, and making demeaning comments towards women. So, when I listened as our now top office holder refused to condemn the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, speaking out didn’t seem like a choice.”
Fukumoto was considered a promising new face in a Republican caucus that struggles to attract women and minorities, accused the party of letting “elements of racism and sexism within the base” damage both the party and the country. Feeling attacked by her own party, the Representative told NBC News that the Republican Party
“seems to be punishing dissent, and when you have a political party, you need dialogue.”
Now, Fukumoto is looking to join Hawaii’s Democratic party.
“For me, I think the Democratic Party of Hawaii allows enough diversity of opinion that the values and ideas that I’ve always held can find a home there. Democrats that want to change the status quo in Hawaii are still fighting to do it, and I want to help them.”
With three quarters of the letters from her constituents supporting the move, it looks like Representative Fukumoto will have a new party to rise within, one that’s much more open to her ideas of inclusion and equality.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.