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Today is election day! Just 4 months ago, I announced that I was running for Congress, and it all comes down to this day. Please vote, but before you do, let me tell you what brought me here.

A year and a half ago, I stood up on a podium at the Hawaii Women’s March, nervous that my speech wasn’t exciting enough. Much has been written about that speech, including remarks that I made against Donald Trump – and I stand by them. But, the most important part of that speech got lost in the mix.

I stood up there on that day to say that my 8-year-old niece, who has campaigned with me since she was 2, stood with me in a ballroom full of people who booed me for refusing to endorse Donald Trump. I said she watched a woman treated unfairly and held to a different standard in a Presidential race. I said I was afraid it taught her that bullies win.

My message on that day was that we needed to fight back – not with hate – but with kindness and respect. Today, I’m still afraid that message is getting lost, and that’s why I think it’s so important elect someone who can look past the headlines of the day to a better future for our little girls who need to grow up in a world where they believe they can be anything.

Win or lose, this election here in Hawaii will be looked back on as one where female candidates faced struggles that their male opponents did not. I’ve personally encountered biases in the media and other places that have held me back, and I hope to someday be able to talk about that for the benefit of other women who encounter the same setbacks.

And, I hope today voters will decide to vote for the candidate they want, not for the candidate they’ve been told will win. Voters decide elections – not pundits or the media or celebrities or big donors.

For now, I want you to know this – I will keep fighting to make sure we build a state where girls look at women in politics and believe they can hold a position of leadership. I want little girls to grow up in a world where they will be treated fairly, where they won’t face unfair standards, and they will be taken just as seriously as the men in their fields.

Two weeks ago, I held a Women’s Roundtable Discussion, and one media outlet broke the silence of other local media on issues facing women to cover the discussion. I talked with women who were turned down for business loans because of their gender, who’ve been disregarded as a female doctor by their patients, and who feel they have to hide pieces of themselves to fit in male-dominated fields. And we agreed whole-heartedly to work together for change.

I’ve also met men on this campaign who want to make change. Men who are committed to making life better for their daughters (and their sons).

There is so much more work to do to make Hawaii better for our kids. And, I hope I will have your vote so I can continue to do that work, to fight for Hawaii in Congress, and serve as an example for every little girl in this state who has big dreams. 

This election was never about me. It is about protecting a place that I love. It’s about greater opportunities for the people and communities that I love. And, it’s about every little girl who watches elections and wonders if she’ll ever have a chance to be a leader.

I never expected that speech on that day to lead me here, but it has. And today, I hope you’ll vote “FUKUMOTO, Beth Keiko” for Congress and give me the opportunity to continue to be a voice for Hawaii.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Beth

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One of the most frequent conversations I have with voters goes like this – “I like what you’ve said. I like how you’ve presented yourself, and we agree on policy. But, why were you a Republican?”

This is my story. It’s long. But, if you’re asking the same question – please take the time to read it:


Uphill in Uncharted Territory: My Political Journey by Beth Fukumoto:


If you’re not from Central Oahu or you don’t follow politics closely, you’re most likely to know me for one of two things.

First, you may know me because I spoke out against Donald Trump at the Hawaii Women’s March and lost my leadership position at the Legislature in a very public battle. In 2016, I was the youngest woman in the United States to hold a legislative caucus leader position. I used my voice and my profile to call attention to the intolerance and hate that I saw in Trump’s candidacy. It cost me a position, a list of donors and, at the time, I thought it might have cost me a job that I love. 

It cost me something because I was an elected Republican, which is the other thing you may know about me. But, you might not know why.

When I first got back from graduate school with expensive students loans at the start of the recession, I found a job filing papers at the Legislature. As I watched the people in power, they didn’t seem know or care that people outside the Capitol building were losing jobs and homes. It looked like the legislators in power were controlled by the wealthiest people in the State. It looked unfair.  And, at 25, I blamed an entire party for the actions of a few legislators at the top.

I thought that if the Democratic Party wasn’t paying attention to my friends, family and community, maybe the Hawaii Republican Party would. 

As a legislator, I moved bills to reduce taxes on our low-income earners, raise taxes on the wealthy, tax out-of-state real estate investors, increase rental subsidies and expand women’s health coverage. Those are not traditional Republican talking points, but my goal was to bring a voice to the Legislature that would value my community over special interests and make real progress on issues of economic justice. I had the right goal, but I came to realize that these values were not held by the Republican party in Hawaii either. 

Speaking out against Trump during the 2016 election and at the Hawaii Women’s March was the last step in a long journey. 

What I saw during my time as an elected official, is that there was space, and in fact, a movement for these views within the Democratic party.  So, I made the decision to petition to join the Democratic party. Like many, I was excited about energy that was shaking up the Democratic establishment and pushing for a renewed focus on the inequalities in our economy.

I spent a lot of time talking to my constituents about the move then I spent a lot of time talking with Democratic party members about supporting my membership. I willingly went through the process to be voted in by a Democratic party committee because I was an elected official. Before that vote, party members pulled up all the votes I had ever taken as an elected official and tested me on every single point of the party platform. When my votes diverged from the platform, I had to explain why. 

My membership into the Democratic party wasn’t guaranteed. I had to earn it and prove that these values aren’t just talking points. The Democratic party took some criticism because of the intensity of the process, but I supported it. The scrutiny and the transparency should be a part of the job when you run for office. And, making a decision to switch parties shouldn’t be easy.

My journey in politics was uphill in uncharted territory. But, that’s what makes me uniquely qualified for this office.

We don’t know what the new Congress will look like, but we do know that our nation is facing challenges that we’ve never seen before. We need someone who can work hard and deliver results for Hawaii regardless of the circumstances. Someone with the courage to push for progress even when it’s difficult. Someone who’s willing to do things the hard way if it means we can have our best chance at a better future.

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Honolulu – Hawaii State Representative and Congressional candidate Beth Fukumoto will host a roundtable discussion to raise awareness of the issues facing women in Hawaii on Thursday, August 2, 2018.

What:     Ask Her Anything-Roundtable Discussion
When:    Thursday, August 2, 2018
                12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m.
Where:   Beth Fukumoto for Hawaii Headquarters
                Hawaii Office Centers
                1110 Nuuanu Avenue
                Streaming via Facebook Live; Recorded for future broadcast.

Featuring women representing a range of industries, the discussion will focus on the role government, media, and industry can play in promoting gender equity, and the issues these women encounter in their professional lives.

“Nationally, politicians and the media are paying closer attention to women’s voices, their stories and their concerns,” Fukumoto said. “The same isn’t true locally. This election, there were no forums on issues facing women, and there were no questions related to these issues in any major debates. This silence has left many women asking if our leaders believe that all of these serious concerns have been addressed and that women are ‘equal enough’ in Hawaii”

Panelists will include:
        • Summer Shiigi – Fashion Designer; Owner, Ten Tomorrow
        • Kimi Ide Foster– Attorney; Chun Kerr, LLP
        • Kristin Kato– Owner, A Cake Life
        • Chrystie Fujimoto, MD– OB/GYN Malama Imaging, LLC
        • Chavah Grant– Event Planner/Designer; Owner, Vida Chic Weddings & Events

Moderator:
Beth Fukumoto – State Representative, Candidate for Hawaii’s First Congressional
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HONOLULU – Independent political action group Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii has endorsed Beth Fukumoto in the Democratic Primary for Hawaii’s First Congressional District.

“Our board was impressed with her at our June 12 candidate forum,” said ADA Hawaii President John Bickel.  “We believe she could build up seniority and be the same kind of powerful voice for the less advantaged as was Patsy Mink, our former organization president.”

“I am extremely proud to have earned the endorsement of the Americans for Democratic Action Hawaii,” Fukumoto said. “Their core values are a very effective model for the platform of Hawaii’s Democratic Party, and I believe they promote real Progressive values, grounded in the strongest planks of our party’s platform. I am honored that ADA Hawaii has placed their confidence in me and my campaign.”

The ADA Hawaii endorsement also noted that Fukumoto is aligned with their policy goals to oppose the Trump administration’s regressive policies and has a positive agenda to promote economic, political, social, and environmental justice, and that she has a record of good votes and clean ethics.

ADA Hawaii has about 250 members.

Nationally, the Americans for Democratic Action is America’s most experienced independent liberal lobbying organization, working through coalition partnerships, through direct advocacy, and the media. Its lobbying philosophy is based on democratic action – motivating its grassroots members to lobby their senators and representatives as constituent-advocates. With 65,000 members nationwide, numerous state and local chapters, and its headquarters in the District of Columbia actively engaging in the political process, ADA continually strives to push for democratic and progressive values and ideals in American policy. ADA’s founders included Eleanor Roosevelt, labor leader Walter Reuther, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
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HONOLULU – Beth Fukumoto, a candidate in the Democratic primary election for Hawaii’s First Congressional District, has called on her campaign volunteers to stop work on her campaign tomorrow, June 20, for one day. Instead, she has asked them to put their efforts behind a call to end President Donald Trump’s programs of separating children from their parents at the U.S. Mexico border.

In an email to supporters, Fukumoto said, “I am asking you to put all of your efforts behind pressing our government to stop the inhuman, anti-American practice of separating children from their families at the border. Whatever you would do for me—take to social media, make phone calls, send emails—turn that effort toward those in our government who have the power to end this. There will be time to campaign again, but now, we must join this fight over the soul of America.”

She also recounted the story of how her father, at the age of three, saw his father taken away by authorities “simply because he was Japanese. Decades later, my father remembers that terrifying moment in vivid detail.”

“How different could those days have been if people across America spoke out?” she continued.  “And what will future generations think about what we did to stop this Administration’s cruel warehousing of migrant children?”

She closed by saying, “America is better than this, but it is up to each of us to lead the way.”

In a statement, Fukumoto added, “I can’t ignore this national shame and pretend that my campaign is the most important thing on anybody’s calendar. I value my volunteers’ support and thank them every day for all they do, but for one day I am asking them to do something else. We all need to speak out against this unspeakable practice.”

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HONOLULU – The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly has endorsed Beth Fukumoto in the Democratic Primary to represent Hawaii’s First Congressional District.

In an email to Fukumoto announcing the endorsement, UHPA president Lynne Wilkins said that, “We are appreciative of the many qualities you demonstrated during your interview and your work at the legislature.  We believe they will serve UHPA and the University System as you continue to serve Hawai’i.”

Wilkins added, “Your grasp of Chapter 89, the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board, pressing issues that impact the retention and retaining of UH faculty, along with the leadership skills you have always demonstrated, stood out above all of the other candidates for this office.”

“I am extremely proud and humbled to receive UHPA’s endorsement,” Fukumoto said. “As a proud UH graduate and member of this community, I value all that the University system represents, and the tremendous contribution to our community by their faculty and staff. I especially appreciate that even where we may not agree on a particular issue or measure, we agree that the faculty at UH deserve our respect and support, and we are willing to work together for the good of the university and our state.”

This was Fukumoto’s first major endorsement of this race.

Hawaii’s Primary Election is scheduled for Saturday, August 11, 2018

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HONOLULU – Beth Fukumoto, al candidate in Hawaii’s Democratic Primary for the state’s First Congressional District, today issued a strong rebuke to a comment by a local pundit on the ethnicity of the candidates in that race.

In the June 6, 2018 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, commentator Dan Boylan stated that late-entrant and former Congressman Ed Case would be helped in the election because, “Five people in that race and not one of them is a haole [caucasian] at the moment, not one.”

Fukumoto, who is bi-racial, responded by saying, “In the 9th grade, a kid visiting Hawaii from Alabama told my friends he wouldn’t talk to me because I wasn’t ‘white enough.’ He said I was ‘worse than a full Asian’ because my Irish mom chose to ‘pollute her genes’ with my Japanese dad. Today I discovered, I’m still not ‘white enough.’

“Now Dan Boylan says my opponent will have an edge because he’s the first caucasian in the race.

“There’s a couple of problems with that. First, it’s divisive and uninformed. Voters will vote for the candidate that embodies their hopes for Hawaii, not the candidate that just looks most like them.

“Second, he’s wrong. My father is a Japanese American from Kalihi, and my mother is an Irish American from the Bronx. I’m proud to be both, and in the most diverse state in the nation, I should be easily accepted as both.”

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HONOLULU – Hawaii’s Beth Fukumoto—the outspoken young leader who made national news when she risked her political future by openly criticizing Donald Trump—has officially entered the Democratic Primary for Hawaii’s First Congressional District.

Joined by her parents and a group of supporters, Beth prepared her filing and took the candidate’s oath, in an effort to join the outstanding women who have represented Hawaii in Congress, including Patsy Mink, Pat Saiki, Mazie Hirono, Colleen Hanabusa, and Tulsi Gabbard.

“I am proud to step into this campaign and share my vision for our best future,” Beth said. “Hawaii’s residents know that it’s getting more difficult to stay, live and thrive here at home. Everything is feeling slightly out of reach for our local families, and we can’t afford to keep doing the same things the same way. We are living in a time of challenge and change, and Hawaii needs someone in Congress who is not afraid to stand up against entrenched interests, but also someone who has real legislative experience and demonstrated success working with others to get work done for the people who elect us.”

Undaunted by her competition, Beth said, “Coming into this, we knew we were facing deep pockets and big names that have been on the ballot since before I was old enough to vote. They’ve had their chance to tackle the challenges facing Hawaii. Yet, every year, we watch friends and family leave Hawaii because they can’t afford to stay. This election is our chance to do things differently. We know this will be a tough race. The biggest beneficiaries of the old ways of doing business are also the biggest funders of campaigns. We are ready to run a campaign that is on the ground and close to the people. We are confident there is a fire to be lit.”

Hawaii’s Primary Election will be held August 11, 2018.

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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.”

ABOUT BETH

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.

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