Something is rotten in the state of Hawai’i. First, two different polls find Bush leading Kerry in the solidly Democratic state. Now, a State Senate candidate from Maui has endorsed the death penalty for gays and lesbians. (via Andrew Sullivan)
What is going on? Hawai’i has only voted Republican twice – in 1972 and 1984 – but those were when the Republicans won all but one state! They even supported Dukakis, and Carter’s second term! How can they be on the verge of voting for Bush, the most conservative president in American history, and have a legitimate State Senate candidate supporting the execution of gays and lesbians (not to mention insisting that Noah was literally 650 when he built the ark)?
The answer to the second question is much easier than the first. Hawai’i has a history of being uneasy with homosexuality. After the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional in 1993, a constitutional amendment reversing the decision won, 69.4% to 28%, in 1998.
But the first story is very curious. Hawai’i, while conservative on gay rights issues, is very pro-choice, and fits the “tax-and-spend” label better than Massachusetts. My suspicion is that this is about Iraq. Hawai’i boasts one of the country’s largest military bases; after all, Honolulu was the first location attacked in WWII. The war in Iraq, and the war on terror, could have generated a good deal of hawkish sentiment, and prompted military families, and their friends and neighbors, to support Bush’s reelection. Is this what happened? I don’t know. But it’s my best guess.