Patricia Saiki


Name Patricia Saiki
Born May 28 1930
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Pioneering two-term Republican Congresswoman from Hawai'i, 1987–91. Patricia Hatsue Fukuda was born in Hilo, Hawai'i on May 28, 1930, to Kazuo and Shizue Fukuda, the eldest of three girls. Her father was a tennis coach at Hilo High School and her mother was a seamstress. She graduated from Hilo High School in 1948 and went on to the University of Hawai'i, graduating in 1952, working as a stewardess to help finance her education. She became a schoolteacher, teaching at Punahou School and Kaimuki Intermediate and Kalani High Schools. She also taught in Toledo, Ohio, where she accompanied her husband, Stanley M. Saiki, for his medical school residency. The couple went on to have five children.

Her road to a political career began with her dissatisfaction at the relative lack of autonomy teachers in Hawai'i faced. With other teachers, she worked with the Hawaii Government Employees Association to form a teacher's chapter and became its president. From there, she was elected to the 1968 Hawaii Constitutional Convention and won election to the State Legislature in 1968 as a Republican in her East Honolulu district, serving three two-year terms. In 1974, she won election to the State Senate, winning reelection in 1978. After an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 1982, she became chairperson of the state Republican Party. In 1986, she made history by winning election to Congress, winning 59% of the vote over Democratic opponent Mufi Hannemann, thus becoming the first Republican to represent Hawai'i in the statehood era. She won reelection in 1988, winning 55% of the vote in defeating Mary Bitterman. She was in Congress during the final debates on redress and was an advocate of what would become the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, helping to generate some Republican support for the measure. Though she largely supported the fiscal and foreign policy of the Reagan and Bush administrations, she held more liberal social views, for instance being pro-choice on the abortion issue.

Saiki ran unsuccessfully for the Senate seat that had been held by Spark Matsunaga, losing to Daniel Akaka. She was subsequently named by George H.W. Bush to head the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 1994, she ran for governor, losing a three person race to Ben Cayetano. She has remained a visible presence in Hawaii Republican politics since.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Flanagan, John. "Talk Story: First There Was Pat." Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Nov. 10, 2002.

"Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox: Pat Saiki—Former Hawaii Congresswoman." Airdate, September 16, 2008. Transcript and audio on PBS Hawaii.

"The Patricia F. Saiki Papers." Archives & Manuscripts, University of Hawai'i at Manoa Library.

Saiki, Patricia. "An AJA Woman in Politics." The Hawai'i Herald, Jan. 3, 2003, Women-8.

"Saiki, Patricia Fukuda." History, Art & Archive, United States House of Representatives.

Saiki, Patsy Sumie. Japanese Women in Hawaii: The First 100 Years. Honolulu: Kisaku, Inc., 1985.

Stone, Scott C. S. Living Legacy: Outstanding Japanese Women of the 20th Century in Hawai'i. Honolulu: Japanese Women's Society Foundation, 2002.

Wakayama, Mary. "Party Perspectives: Republican Party Chairman Pat Saiki." The Hawaii Herald, July 1, 1983, 1, 18, 13.