Adrian Tam was not worried for himself during the election campaign in Hawaii, he said. Instead, he was concerned for the safety of his volunteers and supporters, wearing shirts and masks bearing his name, as his opponent was Nick Ochs, the leader of a Hawaiian section of the far-right paramilitary group. the Proud Boys.
“Fortunately, nothing bad happened,” Tam, 28, told The Daily Beast. “We were greeted with happiness and joy by the people.” Tam was ultimately victorious in his attempt to represent District 22 – spanning Waikiki, Ala Moana, and Kakaako on Oahu – in the Hawaii House of Representatives. He won the seat with 63% of the vote and is now the Statehouse’s sole LGBTQ representative.
Tam told the Daily Beast on Wednesday that he was happy there was a record turnout in Hawaii. “As a first-time contestant, like a lot of first-time contestants, maybe there was a bit of anxiety. I’m just thankful we won, the anxiety is gone. Now the hard work begins today. The main issues he focuses on are homelessness, public safety, condominiums, the coronavirus, the economy and the diversification of the regional economy away from tourism.
The biggest challenge he faced was not Ochs, Tam said, but defeating longtime Democratic incumbent Tom Brower in the primary. “It was an ‘election for change’,” Tam said. “A lot of the new entrants are younger and have won races or open primaries.”
He is also the only LGBTQ member of the legislature. “It feels good,” Tam said. “I always say that representation matters. I am pleased to be able to present this perspective to the Legislature when it comes to making decisions. I always say that a legislature should reflect what a state looks like. I’m happy to be the only one, but I hope I’m not the last.
“Many LGBTQ people have told me that they are excited about our campaign. They really wanted us to win.“
– Adrian tam
LGBTQ issues were not addressed by voters, Tam said. “People were more concerned with the economy and their livelihoods. But a lot of LGBTQ people have told me they are excited about our campaign. They really wanted us to win.
Ochs’ campaign had “thrown at him a lot of insults and attacks,” Tam said, “but we stayed on the message, with the plans and ideas we had to move Hawaii forward. I’m really happy that our message got through, and the community voted strongly to send me to the Legislature. I am grateful for this opportunity given to me by the voters, and I promise to work hard for them.
It concerns Tam that the Proud Boys are present in Hawaii. “But I’m happy and very optimistic that community members have realized that they do not represent Hawaii’s values. Groups like these will always exist, but it’s up to us not only to ignore them, but also to get our message across and change our minds so more people don’t join them. “
Tam muted Ochs on social media, though friends told him when his opponent attacked him online. In September, Facebook took down the Ochs campaign page for violating terms of service and community standards, a move condemned by Ochs. (The Daily Beast reached out to Ochs for comment via Hawaii’s GOP and received no response.)
Local ABC news station KITV reported that the Hawaii Democratic Party denounced Ochs “for a story of offensive social media posts about black, Jewish and LGBT communities, as well as a video showing Ochs urinating in a crack active lava in Kilauea. volcano.”
During his first presidential debate with Joe Biden, President Trump sadly asked the Proud Boys to “stand by”.
In an interview with Hawaii Public Radio in 2018, Ochs said of the Proud Boys: “We are a social club, a fraternity. The Proud Boys are what you would call “new law” or, to make it easier to understand, “alt lite”. The only thing you need to do to become a Proud Boy is to declare yourself a proud Western chauvinist. It’s just to say that we think Western culture is the best and we don’t need to apologize for it.
He said the Proud Boys believed America to be “the greatest country in the world, Canada, Western Europe. Let’s not overcomplicate this. What is the big controversy today? The president is struggling for, I know you have polite listeners, calling parts of the world bullshit, specifically Haiti… and Africa, of course. Objectively, these countries do not have the standard of living of Western countries at all. Everyone agrees that Haiti is a shit hole. I think speaking honestly is just speaking honestly, and the fact that controversy arises is what we exist for.
Ochs, which has been approved by Roger StoneDonald Trump’s former informal campaign adviser and longtime ally, told KITV he was not a racist or white supremacist. “I am happy to talk to anyone. And again, I’m either the worst racist in the world or I’m not a racist. You have to recognize that a white supremacist doesn’t marry a black woman and don’t have a mixed family, that’s not what that word means and the people who pitch it are dishonest. “
“It was the biggest jump I have ever taken in my life.”
Tam was born and raised in Honolulu; his mother and father, he writes on his website, “were parents of immigrant workers from Hong Kong and Taiwan who fled with their families the hardships of their home countries in search of a better life. in the USA.
His father was an assistant to a designer and his mother was a salesperson at Maui Divers. His family then opened Central Pacific Properties Inc., a small local real estate company.
Tam left Hawaii to attend Penn State University, where he studied history, thinking he might go to law school or do a master’s degree. He returned to Hawaii at the age of 23 to work in his family’s real estate business. He felt he was not making enough money and left after a year to take up an administrative post in the state legislature, “where I immediately fell in love with the civil service,” he said. told the Daily Beast.
In 2016, Tam served as legislative assistant and in 2017 he was appointed to the head of Senator Stanley Chang’s office. The Victory Fund, which has supported a number of LGBTQ candidates who have won elections, including Tam, said that during his tenure, Tam was instrumental in enacting the ban on conversion therapy to Hawaii for minors, as well as in collaboration with gay panic defenses. “
Last year Tam told the Daily Beast he decided he would run for public office himself. “I saw that our community and our state were suffering and in need of new voices, new leaders, new ideas and new innovations, so I threw my hat in the ring. It was the biggest jump I have ever taken in my life.
Tam became gay in college. He said he had “never been faced with many challenges in employment. It has never really been a problem for me, but I understand the importance of being seated at the table. As Elizabeth Warren once said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” “
Her family – mom, dad, sister and grandmother – “are my biggest supporters. They are ecstatic, on the moon, right now, and they have been with me since elementary school. Tam is single. Right now he is focusing on his new job, “whatever happens in this part of my life”.
Tam believes that the victories of the young candidates for the first time show that Hawaii was “definitely in the mood to change this electoral cycle.” I am also happy that when we join the legislature there will also be some longtime legislators present. I sincerely believe that we have a lot to learn as new applicants, and I want to learn from the more experienced. We are not here to destroy everything and start from scratch. We want to build on what we have so far. “
“In Hawaii, we respect each other. We have this thing called “the Aloha Spirit” which means that at the end of the day – whatever our beliefs, we remain friendly, cordial and respectful.“
– Adrian tam
Hawaii, Tam said, like the rest of America was extremely divided. He quoted Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it goes backwards. Tam hopes this election turns out to be such a time.
“I believe there has been a passionate exchange between family members, friends, peers and colleagues in Hawaii. There are certainly a lot of people who voted for Biden and others who voted for Trump who disagree. But in Hawaii, we respect each other. We have this thing called “the Aloha Spirit” which means that at the end of the day – whatever our beliefs, we remain friendly, cordial and respectful. We haven’t had any riots or unrest here. There were protests, but it did not turn into what I saw on the continent.
This reporter asked if Ochs had called Tam to concede, or if the couple had spoken since Tam’s victory.
“We haven’t spoken,” Tam said. His tone suggested he didn’t mind that much, the reporter said.
“I’m fine anyway,” Tam said. “I know it’s not easy to be a candidate, so I understand.”
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