7 Things We Didn’t Expect from the 2018 Hawaiʻi Election Deadline
Former Rep. Ed Case joins the race for Congress; and a lawmaker briefly goes shirtless to help a friend
Politicians—like the rest of us—sometimes wait til the last minute. And this year’s final 24 hours before the June 5 candidate filing deadline at the state Office of Elections appears to have broken new ground.
While nearly 400 people pulled the paperwork to run for office across the state this year, the number who actually filed was 323. (The first number is less precise because it includes several candidates who expressed interest in more than one race.) To whet your appetite for this upcoming Hawai‘i political season, we take a look at this week’s deadline surprises.
1. Never say never.
The biggest high-profile surprise was former U.S. Rep. Ed Case jumping back into politics after working as an Outrigger hotel executive for five years. On the June 5 deadline day, Case declared his candidacy to run for the urban Honolulu House seat vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in her run for governor. Case served eight years in the state House and five years in the U.S. House. He left the federal office to challenge fellow Democrat and then-U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka in 2006, a move rejected by voters. He ran for the Senate seat again in 2012 when Sen. Mazie Hirono won. In 2013, Case sent an email to supporters saying the hotel job “likely ends any further political career.”
2. Closer to home?
Former state Sen. Clayton Hee got a late start running for governor as a Democrat against Gov. David Ige in a field that already includes the popular Hanabusa. Hee shifted gears this week, withdrawing from the statewide race to run for the state Senate District 23 seat he once held, against incumbent Democrat Sen. Gil Riviere.
3. Crowded House, No. 1.
Two races have attracted the largest number of elected officials. First, the urban Honolulu Congressional seat vacated by Hanabusa. Case was the latest to join a race that already included: former state attorney general and now Lt. Gov. Doug Chin; state Reps. Beth Fukumoto and Kaniela Ing; state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim; and Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin.
4. More crowds.
The second race that’s drawn a boatload of political types is lieutenant governor. The race to be No. 2 in the state attracted a trio of state senators: Will Espero, Josh Green and Jill Tokuda; as well as Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho and school board member Kim Coco Iwamoto.
5. Free rides!
Some candidates have no competition as they run for re-election, including some key state House leaders. That means they only need to earn one vote in the primary to get elected. On the dominant Democrat side of the primary: state House speaker Scott Saiki, finance chair Sylvia Luke and representatives Joy San Buenaventura, who represents the lava-inundated Puna district, Nicole Lowen, Nadine Nakamura, Bertrand Kobayashi, Scott Nishimoto, Della Au Belatti, John Mizuno, Aaron Ling Johanson, Linda Ichiyama Chong, Gregg Takayama, Roy Takumi, Henry Aquino and Ty Cullen. That adds up to 15 Democrats and one Republican—Lauren Cheape Matsumoto—unopposed in the state House. Sen. Breene Harimoto also has no opposition.
6. They’re back.
Former candidate Angela Ka‘aihue filed as a nonpartisan running for House District 43 seat, vacated by Republican Andria Tupola, who is running for governor. Ka‘aihue gained notoriety in 2016 while running as a Republican with a controversial campaign sign declaring she was “healthy and cancer-free,” an insensitive jab while she considered running against U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, who was battling cancer and later died.
Former state Rep. Faye Hanohano, who lives in Puna, is seeking an Office of Hawaiian Affairs at-large seat. While in the House, she received a reprimand after incidents involving charges of racist, rude and abusive remarks and lost her bid for re-election. Hanohano also officially considered running for her old House seat but instead opted to seek an OHA seat.
7. Yes, he did.
CANDIDATE ERNESTO SONNY GANADEN TAKING THE OATH FROM A STATE ELECTIONS OFFICIAL WHILE REP. CHRIS LEE SHOOTS A VIDEO WITH GANADEN’S PHONE AFTER LENDING HIM THE SHIRT OFF HIS BACK.
PHOTO: ROBBIE DINGEMAN
The shirt-off-your-back honor goes to Windward O‘ahu Rep. Chris Lee, who had filed his candidate paperwork on the morning of the Tuesday deadline. Turns out a buddy of his, attorney-journalist Ernesto Sonny Ganaden, was filing his paperwork for a first run for office, challenging incumbent Rep. Romy Cachola. When Ganaden was about to take the oath of office, he asked Lee to record the moment on his phone, then looked at the casual white T-shirt he had on and asked Lee to swap for his collared purple Tori Richard shirt for the photo. Lee agreed, leaving him shirtless in the elections office until Ganaden finished his oath and gave him his shirt back.
The primary election is on Aug. 11 and the general election is on Nov. 6. Regular registration ends July 12 for the primary. Late registration is available at early walk-in locations from July 30 through Aug. 9.
Starting this year, voters can also register on Election Day. For more information on all the deadlines and the 2018 elections, visit elections.hawaii.gov.