Honolulu — Hawaii Representative Beth Fukumoto, who gained national attention when she left the Republican party rather than temper her criticism of Donald Trump, has announced that she will run in the Democratic Primary for Hawaii’s First Congressional District.
In an email to supporters, Fukumoto said, “Your support has inspired me to find ways to amplify new voices, to fight against the status-quo, and to push back against the establishment to build a better future for Hawaii.”
Fukumoto continued, “I’m running because my family, like yours, knows what it’s like to struggle to make a living, to own a home, and to plan a future in a state that gets more expensive every year. We need leaders who understand the changing needs of Oahu’s working families and have demonstrated success in addressing them.”
Born and raised on Oahu, Fukumoto is the granddaughter of Japanese and Irish immigrants, and one of the few elected female AAPI voices on issues facing women and people of color nationally. Last year, she was the youngest female legislative leader in the country, and one of the first to speak out against President Trump.
“I believe the next person Hawaii sends to Congress must be ready to stand by our core values while making connections and navigating a toxic partisan divide to bring needed resources to our state. I am the only candidate in the race that has a proven record of courage, action and results.”
First elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives in 2012, Beth Fukumoto was the youngest woman in the United States to hold a legislative caucus leader position. She was stripped of that title in response to her direct and unflinching opposition to President Trump at the Hawaii Women’s March, a sanction she readily accepted in order to stand by her values and speak out against injustice.
Citing racism, sexism and deep differences in values, Fukumoto left the Republican Party where she had been labelled a “Progressive Republican” for her efforts to end income inequality and push improvements to women’s health care. After a rigorous vetting process, the Democratic Party of Hawaii agreed that her values and votes aligned, and she became an official member of the party. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser named her “one of the most credible local critics of President Donald Trump.”
In a year when female minority voices were more important than ever, Fukumoto’s story gained broad national attention. She made appearances on Chelsea, Jim Jeffries Show, and Liz Plank’s Divided States of Women, and was featured in publications such as Elle, Slate, Wall Street Journal and Teen Vogue. A short documentary on Fukumoto’s decision to leave the Republican party, produced by The Outline, was nominated for an Ellie Award by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
Named one of the Washington Post’s “The Fix’s 40 under 40” rising political stars, Beth Fukumoto also received a James Madison Fellowship from the Millennial Action Project in recognition of her demonstrated success in transcending partisan lines, she also accepted an invitation to join the nonpartisan Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship Program, which has included both Tom Perez and Julian Castro.
The proud great-granddaughter of Japanese and Irish immigrants, Beth Fukumoto has risen to join the few elected female AAPI voices on issues facing women and minorities nationally. As a legislator, she has focused on increasing access to affordable housing, improving access to healthcare, closing the wage gap, ending income inequality, and fixing Hawaii’s aging infrastructure.