Angered by the partisanship of her colleagues on the right, state Representative Beth Fukumoto officially resigned from the Republican party on Wednesday.
Fukumoto served as the Hawaii House minority leader from 2014 until this year, when she was ousted from the role after giving an impassioned speech at the Women’s March in Honolulu, during which she criticized President Donald Trump for his sexism and bigotry, and challenged the direction in which he appeared to be leading the party. When she refused demands made by her caucus that she refrain from speaking out against the new president, she was promptly removed from her leadership position and replaced by elected state Representative Andria Tupola.
In an interview with NBC News in February, Fukumoto expressed her concerns that the party appeared to be “punishing dissent” and emphasized “when you have a political party, you need dialogue.” She reiterated this point in her letter to the Hawaii Republican Party on Wednesday, writing, ”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.”
In a media statement released on Wednesday, Fukumoto confirmed she would be seeking membership with the Democratic party, with whom she said she had found “significant common ground.” “For me” she said, “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.” Watch her announcement about departing the GOP below.
Read the full story at NBC News.