Rep Beth Fukumoto: Beat up by her party, may defect
For Rep, Beth Fukumoto, taking part in the women’s march was the right move.
But to some, it was wrong to criticize president Donald Trump for his comments about women and minorities
24 hours later, she says, there were calls within the GOP for her to resign her leadership post.
"They told me they would keep me in this position if I would commit to not disagreeing with our president for the remainder of his term. Mr. Speaker, I am being removed as I refuse to make that commitment. I believe as Americans, and members of this body we have a responsibility to criticize power when power is wrong," said Rep. Fukumoto.
Fukumoto's only ally on the floor was the long-time republican lawmaker from Kailua, as Rep. Lauren Matsumoto left the floor in tears during a break.
"This is a democracy. What does the GOP stand for? I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted with Rep. Ward, Rep.McDermott and Rep Tupola. They don’t represent the party I knew. They don't represent the party I joined," said Rep. Cynthia Thielen who believes Fukumoto was being muzzled.
"Muzzled in a sense, to stop criticizing republicans. stop saying republicans are racists, are sexists. She has a history of this and as the top-elected official or was the top elected official, that's problematic," said Rep. Bob McDermott.
"When you step up as leader, and you represent a variety of voices, it's important that you represent all voices. I think that was the concern. Sometimes you have personal opinions versus what the group thinks, and the group wanted to make sure that was being presented,” said Rep, Andria Tupola.
Tupola will replace Fukumoto as Minority Leader.
The Central Oahu lawmaker said she sent out letters to her voters in her district explaining why she feels she can't remain with a party that punishes dissent.
She asking for their feedback.
"The pressure on me is getting greater, and greater just to comply with the wishes of the national party and that's not my job. My job is to represent my district, and the more that pressure increases, the harder and harder it will get to be a voice for Mililani. because the pressure is on me is to be a voice for the national party, not for Mililani and if those two are mutually exclusive, I am going to am going to pick Mililani every time," said Fukumoto.
Fukumoto said she has not yet talked with leaders of either party.
She will wait to hear back from the voters in her district.
If she defects, that will leave the GOP with just five members in the legislative session.
The GOP issued a statement from chairman Fritz Rohlfing which urged Fukumoto to remain with the party.
Should she decide not to, Rohlfing said the honorable thing to do would be to step down so the party could come up with possible replacements from her district.