The candidate filing deadlines have come and gone and the September primary ballots are at the printer, but the drama continues.
A Circuit Court judge ruled today against the state Office of Elections’ attempt to disqualify a Republican candidate in state Senate District 14 in Moanalua for not filing the required signatures from district voters on his candidate paperwork.
Peter Dudek, a Republican challenging state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, had 24 signatures validated by the Office of Elections before the candidate filing deadline. He needed 15 valid signatures under the law.
A subsequent review by the Office of Elections, however, found that Dudek only had 14 valid signatures from district voters. The state went to court to disqualify Dudek, but the judge found that the state did not provide sufficient evidence.
“It was a clerical error on our part,” Scott Nago, the chief election officer, said of not catching the lack of valid signatures during the first review.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii, meanwhile, has determined that one state Senate candidate and two state House candidates do not meet the party’s standards and should be disqualified from the primary. The party requires that candidates be Democrats in good standing for a minimum of 60 days before filing for office.
The Democrats in question are Daniel Davidson in Senate District 9 in Kaimuki, Kaleo Farias in House District 44 in Nanakuli, and Jason Pascua in House District 48 in Kaneohe. If Davidson is disqualified in SD9, Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., would be unopposed in the primary. If Pascua is disqualified in HD48, Rep. Ken Ito would get a free ride.
Dante Carpenter, the party’s chairman, believes it is up to Nago at the Office of Elections to challenge the candidates in Circuit Court. Under the law, if the candidates are disqualified, proclamations would be posted at polling places to inform voters, since ballots are already being printed.
Nago, however, believes it is up to Carpenter and the Democrats to go to court under Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 12-8(f). He said the party, not the state, determines who is a Democrat.
And, finally, a potential challenge could be filed against former state Sen. Robert Bunda’s candidacy in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor over questions about whether he properly resigned from the Senate. Disappeared News, a liberal blog, raised questions about Bunda’s resignation rarlier this week.
Bunda notified the Senate president and the Senate clerk of his intent to resign on July 14. Bunda submitted his resignation to the Office of Elections on July 16. And Bunda filed for lieutenant governor on July 19, the day before the filing deadline.
But Bunda only notified the Senate of his intent to resign — not his actual resignation — which creates a potential gray area. (The state Attorney General’s office has said there is no statutory requirements specifying who must be notified. But the AG believes it should be the Senate president, the Senate clerk, the governor, the senator’s political party, and the chief elections officer.)
Nago, the chief election officer, said Bunda is a candidate for lieutenant governor as far as he is concerned. “As far as we know, he properly resigned,” he said.