Ron Kouchi | Articles

The Senate President Is Serving Comfort Food With Political Instincts


Lee Cataluna

February 2, 2022


Ron Kouchi has a long memory, humble roots and a knack for lining up votes and brokering deals.

In a modest home in Lihue’s Isenberg tract, Ron Kouchi used to host the kind of garage parties where everybody brought something to throw on the grill or an appropriate side dish.

The women in attendance would tell Kouchi’s two young sons, “You’re not walking past me without a hug, are you?” The gathering of people sitting on folding chairs was incredibly diverse, and talk could flow freely in a safe space where newcomers were welcomed into the circle by party regulars.

Because of pandemic restrictions on gatherings and because the Kouchi family moved to a newer house with a not-made-for-parties garage, “those garage parties don’t exist anymore,” as Kouchi put it. The spirit of those gatherings, however, is still part of how Kouchi gets things done.

Kouchi, 64, is a veteran politician who knows how to line up votes and broker deals in his chamber. As Senate president, Kouchi wields an enormous amount of power in the Capitol, but said in his opening day remarks last month that his job is to help the rest of the senators achieve their goals. He’s the opposite of a performative politician quick to call a press conference or tweet out sassy quotes. His flex is behind the scenes. His work happens in conversations, not in pronouncements.