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Political Life on the Hawaiian Islands

Barack Obama Might Want to Be President, but James Akahi Wants to Be King (of Hawaii)

Sometimes being a journalist is a tough, tireless and, at times, dangerous job.

But then sometimes you get an assignment to cover a story that sends you to beautiful tropical islands where you trade shoes for sandals, monitor glare for sunshine and hurried showers for dips in the clear blue ocean.

If you are "Good Morning America Weekend's" Bill Weir that is.

Somehow Bill managed to nab the most coveted assignment on ABCNews' 50 States in 50 Days project: Hawaii.

But all is not surf and sun in Barack Obama's home state. While there, Bill found that Hawaii boasts a complex and proud history and is watching closely as one of its own attempts to change the future.

It has been more than a century since American sugar plantation owners led an overthrow of the Queen of Hawaii. By the time statehood arrived almost a half century ago, there were so many American "haolies" that any Hawaiian protest was drowned out by parties in the street.

But after years of development, the natives got restless, and this summer a simmering movement made news when a group of radical secessionists broke into the Iolani Palace in Honolulu.

James and Grace Akahi claim that their bloodline makes them the rightful King and Queen of Hawaii. They travel on their own homemade passports and they are suing the government for $100 trillion.

But such secessionist vigor is balanced on the islands by an equally fierce patriotism and belief in democracy. It is a land of contradictions, where minority opinions compete because everyone is a minority. Hawaii has the highest mixed-race population of any state.

And it is here that a half-black, half-white kid named "Barry" came of age before the world knew him as Barack Obama.

The Obama camp is so confident that Obama's statesmen will vote in his favor, they don't run ads on the island.

Brian Schatz, chairman of the Democratic Party in Hawaii, told "Good Morning America" that the numbers speak for themselves.

"We went from 2-3,000 people normally showing up to our caucuses to 38,000 people," Schatz said.

"I know people who registered to vote that have never voted in their life," said Kauai resident Tracey Schoembaum. "I watched the debate for the first time, believe it or not."

Much like the Republicans in Alaska, a majority of the democratic volunteers in Hawaii are not bothering trying to sway votes in their own state, but will spend the remaining days cold-calling voters in the swing state of Nevada.

Well, that and enjoying the gorgeous Hawaiian sunsets.

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