Monday, October 7, 2002

Election 2002
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Case, Waihee
go for House

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa also
sets sights on Mink’s U.S. House seat

By Richard Borreca and Genevieve A. Suzuki |

Two of the Democratic Party's biggest names have announced their intention to run in a special election to replace U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.

State Rep. Ed Case, who announced yesterday he will run to fill the remainder of Mink's term in the 107th Congress, filed his nomination papers this morning on Maui.

Former Gov. John Waihee, who announced his intentions yesterday through a spokesman, also is expected to begin campaigning today for Congress.

Their announcements come two days after Mink was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Mink died Sept. 28 after a monthlong battle with viral pneumonia.

As a tribute to Mink, Case filed his papers on Maui today, saying, "I think this is the right place to file for all the right reasons."

Case also said that if Mink posthumously wins the Nov. 5 general election, he would run in the special election to fill her next term.

At about the same time, Waihee, who is traveling in Washington, D.C., released a statement through spokesman Steve Hirano that he would also run to finish Mink's unexpired term.

"There have been meetings over the weekend to get ready, and someone will pull papers for him tomorrow," Hirano said yesterday.

A third Democrat, Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, said yesterday she would not run to fill the vacancy left by Mink's death but would run if Mink is elected in the Nov. 5 general election.

"I am not going to run for the interim, and I think Mr. Mink (Patsy Mink's husband, John) should finish her term," Hanabusa said.

The special election to fill the remainder of Mink's current term is scheduled for Nov. 30 at an estimated cost of about $2 million. But State Attorney General Earl Anzai has asked the state Supreme Court to allow election chief Dwayne Yoshina to hold the election in conjunction with the Nov. 5 general election.

Case, 50, had mulled over a congressional race before deciding to run for governor this year. Yesterday he and his wife, Audrey, said that the voter support in the governor's race was "validating."

"He went out on his own -- no help from the usual suspects, the old boys' network," Audrey Case said. Case lost to Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono by 2,603 votes in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in September.

Case lives in the 1st Congressional District, which includes urban and East Honolulu, as did Mink, but is seeking to represent the 2nd District, which includes rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

Representatives to Congress need not live in the district they represent.

"Nobody can ever replace Patsy Mink," Case said before his announcement.

He said both his family and his wife's family have lived in the 2nd District for several generations.

"I know this district, its people, its challenges, what it needs," Case said.

"Congress is no stranger to me," said Case, referring to when he first worked as a legislative assistant for the late U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga from 1975 to 1978.

Case said he would not support unilateral action against Iraq but would endorse a resolution that allowed action if it were to protect "the United States and its citizens in conjunction with the United Nations resolution and it's part of international action."

At a news conference yesterday, Case said that shortly after losing the race for governor, he starting thinking what to do if a congressional vacancy opened.

Mink had been in the hospital for several weeks, and her spokeswoman, Joan Manke, said that the family was not releasing any information about her condition.

Even during the last week of Mink's life, Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba, were saying that Mink was getting better. Abercrombie even said he expected to see her campaigning for re-election.

"Well, somewhere around four or five days after the primary election, as Mrs. Mink was still ill, I sat down with my family and with my closest supporters, and we decided then that if there was a vacancy -- we had no expectation one way or the other -- but if the vacancy arose that we would be candidates," Case said.

Waihee, 56, since concluding his second term as governor in 1994, has worked as an attorney and lobbyist with the Washington-based law firm of Verner Liipfert, which recently merged with another firm, Piper Rudnick.

After the merger, Waihee restarted his old law firm, Waihee and Nip, with attorney Renton Nip.

Hanabusa, like Waihee and Case, is also an attorney in private practice.

As of Thursday, 10 people had filed papers to run in the winner-take-all special election on Nov. 30. They are Chas Collins, Kekoa D. Kaapu, Art P. Reyes, John Mayer, John L. Baker, Malama Solomon, Dan A. Cole, Mike Gagne, Carolyn Golojuch and Walter R. Barnes. The deadline to file papers is Oct. 15.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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