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Tuesday, October 8, 2002



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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Patsy Mink's coffin lay in state last week at the Capitol. An attempt to take her name off the ballot has created a stir.




State wants Mink
replaced on ballot
by another Dem


Ex-gov calls for John Mink to finish term


By Crystal Kua
ckua@starbulletin.com

State Attorney General Earl Anzai said he will ask the Hawaii Supreme Court to allow the Democratic Party to replace the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink's name with another Democrat on the general election ballot.

The attorney general said he is making the request as a way to save the estimated $2 million it would cost to hold a January special election if Mink is elected posthumously in the Nov. 5 general election.


Election 2002
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Mink, who won the Democratic primary on Sept. 21, died of viral pneumonia on Sept. 28, two days after the deadline to replace her name on the ballot.

"We're going to ask the Supreme Court to direct the chief election officer to waive the time requirements for filling that vacancy," Anzai said yesterday.

Anzai said he believes state law gives the state's chief election officer, Dwayne Yoshina, the discretion to waive the deadline. The move is similar to events in New Jersey in which Democrats were allowed to replace scandal-plagued U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli on the general election ballot.

But isle Republicans decried the move, saying Democrats were looking to give themselves an advantage.

"It doesn't smell too good," said state Rep. Bob McDermott, the GOP candidate for Mink's 2nd Congressional District seat. "I'm just playing by the rules. The rules are made to be followed."

Mink's death set into motion several events, including the setting of a Nov. 30 special election to fill the remaining weeks of her current term.

In related developments:

>> The state Supreme Court denied yesterday Gov. Ben Cayetano's request to combine the special election to fill the remainder of Mink's unexpired term with the general election. The governor wanted to save the $2 million cost of a special election. The Nov. 30 special election will proceed as planned, Yoshina said.

>> Seven more candidates filed nomination papers yesterday to fill Mink's seat for the final month of her term. They include Democrat Ed Case and former Republican state Rep. Whitney Anderson.

Last week, Torricelli dropped his re-election bid, saying he feared he would cost the Democrats control of the Senate. He was admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for taking gifts from a 1996 campaign contributor, and polls showed him trailing a Republican opponent.

The Democrats decided to replace Torricelli with another, well-known candidate, former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The Republican Party challenged the move, complaining that Democrats missed the deadline for making a switch.

But the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected that argument, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene, leaving the Republicans unable to block the replacement candidacy.

"I think our case is much better than New Jersey's," Anzai said. "In New Jersey, nobody died, they just thought the guy would lose. Ours, basically, is that the situation is almost what the law would've allowed had the vacancy been in effect two or three days earlier. It's not very far from what the law would've allowed."

Anzai said his motivation was not to give the Democratic Party an advantage.

"I think that's about as far as you can get from reality," said Anzai, who said he has received calls from people unhappy with what he is doing.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba said the party did not ask the governor to make the request.

"The Democratic Party of Hawaii had no involvement in the governor's decision to do this, and, again, we have expressed our concerns and reservations with respect to this because we are very concerned about the importance of making sure that the special-election process is open and fair and that the special-election process gives the Hawaii voters the broadest possible selection of leaders for this very important office," Akiba said.

Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane said the public will perceive the action as the Democrats manipulating the system for their own gain.

"I think the people of Hawaii, regardless of their party ... want to just see a fair election. They want to see something fair, and this isn't it," Kane said.

Case, who lost his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial race, said he is supportive of the governor's goal "to get the matter resolved at a minimum of expense, but I am skeptical of the decision not being made by the voters themselves.

"I believe that essentially the decision is one for the voters as opposed to the Democratic Party itself," he said.

If the Supreme Court allows Democrats to substitute, he will ask the party to nominate him, Case said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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