August 11th, 2010

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.

13 Responses to “Afters”

  1. Nikki Heat:

    The Party trying to disqualify candidates is stupid– they Party didn’t field three candidates in legislative districts held by the GOP and now it’s trying to stop competition in a State Senate and in two House races? It sends a message: young and new candidates who have been activated into political action for some reason and want to get involved in public service will not be embraced by the Old Boy Network (progressive or otherwise) that controls the Party unless they are good little boys and girls, who fit a specific timetable, and sign the right papers and, apparently, kowtow to the right people. Did the Party check on whether all its candidates are in compliance with its “standards?” The Democratic Party certainly has been grappling with the “who is a Democrat in good standing” issue for several years– some party activists have wanted to even file a lawsuit to somehow restore the pre-1978 Constitution closed primary (I suppose only Democrats “in good standing” (however defined) would be able to vote in the partisan primary but I think the taxpayers would continue to foot the bill for that primary selection process among the touted 50,000 or so card carrying Dems). The Party’s convention apparently did amend its general laws to require candidates to go through a vetting process of some kind if they didn’t apply to join the party six months before the filing deadline (the process for those who apply within the six months is convoluted and I’d like to see if the Party apparatchiks can actually show they followed the process due to the candidates they want to disqualify). So young folks and others who always considered themselves (and their families) Democrats because that’s the way they voted and those are the Party candidates they supported, are now being told they can’t run under the Democratic Party label. Auwe. And I’m sure Dante Carpenter and Party Exec. Dir. Debi Hartmann will just whine that they’re just doing their jobs.

  2. WaialuaHaole:

    I, for one, would be extremely interested to hear from Daniel Davidson in Kaimuki, Kaleo Farias in Nanakuli, and Jason Pascua in Kaneohe on what they think of the state Democrat Party’s desire to see them DQ’d before the primary. Is this just the state party remaining principled and adhering to the rules, even when it means their own candidates are affected? Or is there something about these candidates/candidacies that bothers the state party leadership. Are they getting booted on a technicality? Or is there something substantive?

  3. ohiaforest3400:

    And if Bunda is found not to have resigned and is not or can not, therefore, be a candidate for LG, what about all those who filed for his Senate seat, especially Mike Magaoay who forewent running for reelection to his House seat?


  4. Doug:

    @OH3400 Yup, what a pickle. A few candidates registered in good faith to run for Bunda’s vacated(?) seat.

    If Bunda is still a Senator, then maybe the most fair way to resolve that would be to carry on with an election for his Senate district even in this “off” year—and adding Bunda to the ballot as the incumbent?

  5. ohiaforest3400:

    Doug, when trying to resolve a dispute between my then-young children, I often found myself deploying a wonderful saying that I first heard from their second grade teacher: “fair does not necessarily mean equal.” In fact, I find myself still using that saying even tho’ they are now adults.

    Adapted for use here, I would have to say in response to the outcry from the “candidates” for Bunda’s seat, should it turn out that there is no vacant seat for them to seek: “fair does not necessarily mean legal.” In other words, your suggestion might be fair but it would not be legal and they would be SOL. Or, I could use the corollary: “legal does not necessarily mean fair.”

  6. Kolea:


    I agree it was stupid to disqualify these candidates. The rule change was not adopted at the recent convention, but two years ago. It had been recognized that it was problematic and so, it was not enforced during the 2008 election cycle. At the May 2010 convention, the author of the original language came with some proposed amendments to make the rule more sensible, but because the amendments were offered past a deadline, they could only be considered if the majority of the committee agreed. Unfortunately, the committee was tired and cranky when time came to consider late submissions, so the amendments were not considered. So the rule remained, but many of us assumed when it became time to implement the rule, reasonable minds would prevail.

    The decision to disqualify the three candidates was not made by Dante Carpenter, but by the Executive Committee of the Oahu County Committee.

    As the man says, “it was worse than a crime, it was a mistake.” Hopefully, the Oahu County Committee, meeting in its entirety on Saturday, will consider overturning the EC’s decision in favor of common sense.

  7. Michael:

    Before? Always Before.

  8. Doug:

    True dat.

  9. Yoshi1940:

    There is no question that Sen. Bunda terminated being a Senator, and created a vacancy, so the special election is valid. He filed retirement papers, got off the payroll, turned in keys, etc. The challenge seeks to terminate his ability to run for LtGov despite doing all of that, due to a semantic matter in the letter to the Senate. The Senate did not split semantic hairs and reportedly duly processed his resignation, so Sen. Bunda is definitely not a senator anymore.

    There is a news article elsewhere in the SA. I am just summarizing. You can read it for yourself. For everyone’s info, I am not a Bunda supporter. I am commenting because of the confusion caused by the challenge which I view as a nasty bit of mean-spirited skulduggery.

  10. Joe:

    Something really fishy about this. If you read between the lines, it sounds like the Democrats are with their old tricks again. Bullying new candidates so the incumbants gets re-elected. This is soooo stupid! The truth should be exposed. This year will probably one of the biggest and most exciting election in Hawaii in recent years. If the Democrats already are having dramas in their own party and having such negative publicity in the beginning of the campaign season, the voters will get turned off and the Republicans will prevail. Leave these new candidates alone and let the best candidate win. That’s what our democracy is all about. I read the Democrat constitution and there are WAIVERS AND EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE! Where is the ALOHA? “Good Standing for a Minimum of 60 days”. That’s nuts cause many Democrats don’t even know that they have to file paperworks to be officially a member. The Democratic Party is something else. NO COMMON SENSE! This is why I left the Democrat Party years ago and so many others I know.

  11. zzzzzz:

    If we had nonpartisan elections, as at the county level, none of these issues would matter.

  12. waialuahaole:

    Mahalos to the staff for following up on my suggestion with 2 stories! You deserve an atta’boy (or atta’girl, depending on who followed up!)

  13. Joe:

    It was announced that there are 3 MORE found to be disqualified, bringing the total to date up to 6, because they did not been the minimum 60 days of “good standing” member. This is a mess. I feel bad for the Party but more importantly the Candidates and their supporters. I’m sure if the Party carefully audits all the candidates, they will probably have more candidates to disqualify. The story keeps getting to be more interesting. Funny that the Party is shooting their own members out of the running. Way to go!

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