Hilo delegate gets stage role at GOP convention


TAMPA, Fla. — Big Island delegate Dylan Nonaka has been given a stage role on the final night of the Republican National Convention.

Nonaka said he has been chosen to recite the Pledge of Allegiance from onstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before close to 20,000 people tonight, the same night Mitt Romney delivers his acceptance speech after being nominated Tuesday to become president.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” said Nonaka, 31, of Hilo, a political consultant and former executive director of the state Republican Party.

A Republican National Committee staffer looking through a database of veterans for the Pledge of Allegiance assignment recognized Nonaka’s name and recalled him as someone she had worked with at the state’s GOP caucuses in March.

Nonaka was vetted, cleared and was confirmed for the job on Monday. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq invasion currently is an Army reservist with the 871st Engineer Company in Hilo.

Nonaka is a first-time delegate to the Republican convention.

“It’s fun spending time with other Republicans,” Nonaka said. “You can walk around without getting grief from everybody for wearing your Romney shirt.”

Republicans realize there is virtually no chance in Hawaii for Romney to beat President Barack Obama, who was born in the state. But Nonaka said “good folks locally” are running in down-ballot races.

As for Obama, “people have to look at whether they are better off now than they were four years ago, and I think it is clear the vast majority of people are not.”

“Even if you like Obama personally and like that he was from Hawaii, he didn’t deliver on the vast majority of promises that he made,” Nonaka said. “I hope their vote is based on that and not on his personal life.”