Pat Saiki, one of the most successful Republicans in Hawaii history, is going to lead the state Republican Party.
She's taking over as chairwoman for David Chang. Chang had led the state party since 2011.
Saiki said Thursday her goals for the party are to get back to basics. She says that means recruiting good candidates and winning elections.
"It’s no secret that we’ve got our work cut out for us. But I’ve always believed that there’s opportunity in adversity, and I know our elected officials and our candidates offer Hawaii voters a real choice in this year’s elections," said Saiki. "And let’s not forget that we’re a party with a proud record in Hawaii – Republicans have held the governorship twice; we’ve been elected to the U.S. Senate and House; we’ve had many great leaders in our state Legislature, and in our counties."
As simple as those steps sound, they have eluded Hawaii's Republicans through most of the state's history. Saiki was an exception. She served six years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate. She was elected to Congress in 1986 and served two terms there.
Chang said he is resigning to focus on his duties as an officer in the Army National Guard and to spend time with family.
"A few months ago, if you told me I’d be assuming the chairmanship of the Hawaii Republican Party I would have said you were nuts! The party was in good hands and I was enjoying playing golf with my girlfriends," said Saiki. "But when David Chang told me he was being deployed in service to our country, and he asked me to step in, I couldn’t say no. Not when it concerned a political party that has been my home for five decades."
Pat Saiki started out as a school teacher, teaching History, English and Physical Education for twelve years -- first at Punahou and then at Kaimuki Intermediate, Kalani High and Toledo Middle School.
In 1968, Saiki was elected to the first Constitution Convention after statehood. She was elected to the State House of Representatives later that year, beginning her fourteen year tenure in the State House and Senate.
She assumed the chairmanship of the Hawaii Republican Party in 1982 and served for two and a half years before being elected to U.S. Congress and serving two terms.
After running for U.S. Senate, Saiki was appointed by President George H. W. Bush as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1990.
Saiki has also served as an instructor at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is the widow of Stanley M. Saiki, M.D. and the mother of five children.