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Hawaii Rep. Beth Fukumoto talks to reporters about why she's leaving the Republican Party on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Honolulu. Rep. Fukumoto resigned from the GOP Wednesday because she says its members refuse to oppose racism and sexism and that she was pressured to give up her leadership post at the statehouse after criticizing President Donald Trump. She's hoping to become a Democrat but does not know whether the Democratic Party will accept her. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)

A Hawaii Republican said the party is poisoned by 'racism and sexism' and defected


A former Hawaii Republican resigned from the party Wednesday and now wants to become a Democrat, arguing that her former party was dominated by "racism and sexism."

State Rep. Beth Fukumoto became a member of the party eight years ago. Last year, she said a fellow Republican told her, "We are the party of middle America. I don't care if the demographics don't fit."

Fukumoto interpreted that as a "colonial mindset" that led to racism and sexism rather than traditional Republican values like small government.

Fukumoto said in her resignation letter the tipping point was President Trump saying during his campaign he might have supported Japanese internment camps. This came after she warned her party that the Muslim registry was "only one step away from internment camps."

Fukumoto said her fellow Republicans dismissed Trump's Muslim registry talk as "just rhetoric." She later spoke out at a Women's March in Hawaii, which led to calls for her resignation.

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Rep. Beth Fukumoto talks with reporters in her capitol office on Wed., Feb. 1, 2017 in Honolulu. In deep-blue Hawaii, Fukumoto is considering switching parties to become a Democrat after she was pressured to resign her leadership role for criticizing President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)

"My caucus told me that they would remove me from leadership unless I promised not to criticize the president for the remainder of his term," Fukumoto wrote. "That was a promise I simply could not make."

In a video statement, Fukumoto said she was seeking a Democratic membership.

I've found significant common ground with my Democratic colleagues. Enough ... that I believe that we can fit comfortably in the same tent.
Hawaii Rep. Beth Fukumoto

The Outline reports her acceptance in the party isn't a guarantee. She has a socially conservative voting record, including voting against same-sex marriage in 2013. 

However, she said in a statement she thought she would fit the party.

Some Trump supporters weren't sorry to see her go.

Others applauded her.

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