to challenge Blundell
for House seat
A candidate says an arrest did not
influence her decision to run
Two Democrats will be running in September's primary election for the West Maui state House seat for a chance to challenge incumbent Republican Brian Blundell, who was arrested last week for allegedly groping an undercover police officer.
Gretchen McKelvey of Lahaina and Kameo Tanaka drew and filed their nomination papers yesterday.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii had no information about Tanaka yesterday.
McKelvey, 26, of Lahaina, works for her mother's Internet travel agency. She said she has no prior political experience but her husband and his family are active Republicans who worked on Blundell's campaign two years ago.
"It's a running joke in the family that if Maria Shriver can be married to a Republican governor," then she can co-exist as a Democrat with her Republican in-laws, McKelvey said. "They're supportive. I'm very passionate about my beliefs."
She said Blundell's arrest was not the reason she decided to jump into the race. She said she had talked about running two years ago and had been discussing her candidacy with Maui Democratic Party Chairman James "Kimo" Apana for several months.
Gov. Linda Lingle has expressed her support for Blundell's re-election, and Blundell said he has received support from constituents since his arrest.
Asked yesterday what Blundell needs to do to win in November's general election, state Republican Party Chairman Brennon Morioka said: "It is going to make Brian understand he has to work even harder to touch his constituents to let him know he has been fighting for their best interest all along. I think his record is a damn good one."
Honolulu police arrested Blundell Thursday night outside a Kapiolani Park restroom after he allegedly approached a plainclothes police officer and groped the officer's crotch. Police said the officer was in the area because of complaints about homosexual advances.
Blundell is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor. He said he will take responsibility for his actions but would not elaborate. Blundell is scheduled to return to court Aug. 6.