17 Delegates At Stake In First-Ever Hawaii Caucuses

Published On: Mar 12 2012 05:56:10 AM HST   Updated On: Mar 13 2012 12:36:22 AM HST

What do Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum all have in common? All three presidential candidates sent a son or daughter to Hawaii to try to make waves ahead of Republican presidential caucuses Tuesday evening.

Paul dispatched his son Ronnie, while Romney deployed son Matt. Santorum meanwhile is utilizing oldest daughter Elizabeth. Newt Gingrich was the only of the four major candidates not to send a representative to the Aloha State.

"Presidential candidate Ron Paul actually has a couple commercials (and) we have some robocalls from Santorum," said David Chang, state chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party.

Instead of using the more traditional state convention system to award Hawaii's seventeen delegates, Republican voters will caucus at 41 polling sites from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The caucuses are seen as a way to generate more excitement among the party faithful, as teams representing the various candidates make their best pitch to undecided voters.

"There can be no lobbying within 50 feet of the ballot," said Chang, "but outside of it, presidential candidate teams can pass out information (and) talk about why they want their presidential candidate to win."

"The people are going to decide this election and not money," added Elizabeth Santorum, who spoke to KITV4 on Monday. "This is an important time in Hawaii to have a say."

The Santorum and Paul camps believe Romney has a long way to go before he can safely secure the GOP nomination. They say many of the delegates already being counted by the former Massachusetts governor are non-binding, meaning they won't pledge their support until late August during the National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

"The real answer is we may have as many or more delegates actually going to the National Convention then they do," said Ronnie Paul, the Texas congressman's son, who spoke to KITV4 on Friday.

However, four prominent Hawaii Republicans have already backed Romney for president. They include former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, former U.S. Rep Pat Saiki, and state House Minority Leader Gene Ward.

"I'm heartened to have such growing support in Hawaii," Romney said in a press release. "I look forward to working with them to create more jobs, cut wasteful government spending, and reduce the size of government."

As a proportional caucus state, Hawaii delegates are awarded based on the amount of support each candidate receives. "So even though you have a strong second or third place, you will get some delegates," explained Chang.

Hawaii will also send three superdelegates to Tampa, which consists of Chang as well as National Committeeman Ted Liu and National Committeewoman Miriam Hellreich. Superdelegates are pledged to candidates during the National Convention. It will take 1,144 delegates to secure the republican nomination.

For a link to Hawaii Republican Caucus sites, click here: http://www.gophawaii.com/2012-presidential-caucus/


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