convention dispatch

Better Know a Convention Delegate: Kimo Sutton, Hawaii

Kimo Sutton. Photo: Dan Amira/New York Magazine

What’s your name and where are you from?
Kimo Sutton. Honolulu, Hawaii. 

Are you a birther?
What’s that mean? [laughs] He was born in the same hospital that I was!

You were born in Kenya?
No! In  Kapi’olani. Now you’re talking birther. Where’s your Ron Paul shirt? [laughs] No, he was born in the United States. He went to my high school. But nobody in my day, which was nine years before him, would ever allow another basketball player, or a teammate, to smoke dope. Now beer’s another thing — but you just don’t operate on a team very well, it wrecks the rest of your team. 

I thought that marijuana was a part of Hawaiian culture.
It’s not like California, where cartels are almost taking over … That’s why dope is one of the worst things. People that smoke it are just helping cartels and killing 50,000 people in Mexico. Of course, we all tried it when we were kids, but the thing is we grew our own, we didn’t buy it from cartels. And we had shit. 

Why do you think the birther movement is so persistent in the Republican Party?
I think that there’s a want to have some other way of beating this opponent. And that’s not the right way about it. 

Do you think it’s racist at all?
I don’t think it’s racist. I think it’s kind of, it’s a hope in a different way. It’s the wrong kind of hope. 

What’s it like being a Republican in Hawaii, one of the bluest states in the country?
We are the “other team,” so to speak. And being an underdog is always a good position to be in. 

What about in your social life? Is it hard to talk politics with friends?
Well, most of them aren’t informed. So if they’re stuck in what they’re into, and they don’t want to have a conversation about it, you change the conversation. We have a saying in Hawaii called aloha. Which means I love you. I love you, you love me. It doesn’t always mean you’re right or you’re wrong, but if you want to have a conversation, you start with a basis of respect and then you can. 

This interview has been condensed and edited. 

Better Know a Delegate: Kimo Sutton, Hawaii