Honolulu Lite

Charles Memminger

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Primary vote soars
for the great unknown

While poll watchers complain about sparse turnout in Saturday's primary election, Honolulu Lite's crack political analysis team has uncovered evidence that interest in voting actually is soaring.

In the 2002 primary, the lowest vote-getter -- a state House candidate from the rural Windward side -- garnered a grand total of nine votes.

The lowest vote-getter in this year's primary was Fred Ruge, a non-partisan House candidate from Wailuku, Maui, who sucked in a massive 30 votes, more than 200 percent higher than last time and proof of rampant voter interest.

I'm always proud of the people who get the fewest votes because they are the face of true democracy. I don't know Mr. Ruge, but with little hope of actually winning election, he nevertheless got 29 other presumably sentient beings to sign on to his whatever the opposite of "political juggernaut" is. Even if those 29 people were family or owed Ruge money (or both), it's still an inspirational tale of an underdog, who, against all odds, bravely takes on the moneyed power brokers and loses in a dramatic, heart-breaking fashion.

Speaking of losing in a dramatic fashion, my favorite candidate for mayor, purely from an entertainment point of view, was Glenn Pinho, the only one who promised in an advertisement to make Hawaii a "terrorist free state." (I assume he meant "terrorist-free state," not of a "free state" for terrorists, but let's not quibble over punctuation.)

Pinho got 116 votes, only a scant 84,066 fewer than top voter-getter Duke Bainum. For a candidate who says he has located huge gold reserves hidden when the United States overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii, that's not too shabby.

The "Come Back Kid" of this primary election has got to be the Palaka Palooka himself, former Office of Hawaiian Affairs member Clayton Hee, who knocked off incumbent Melodie Aduja in the Kaneohe/Kahuku House race. Hee lost in the 2002 primary running for lieutenant governor against a ghost. He actually lost to Matt Matsunaga but claimed it was the ghost of Matt's dad, the legendary Spark Matsunaga, who did him in at the polls.

But Hee bounced back this year, going against fellow Democrat Aduja, who not only had a bit less -- OK ... a LOT less -- political clout than Matsunaga, but some zany campaign ideas, like its all right to ask inmates from the halfway houses your family owns to wave political signs for you. She avowed that the inmates "volunteered" to campaign for her, surprisingly unaware that convicts who are a hair's breath from being sent back to the Big House likely wouldn't want to offend the madam in charge of their current accommodations.

The Palaka Palooka placed several of his campaign signs outside an Aduja stronghold in Kaneohe which read "Hee, Hee, Hee" to passers-by. He -- Hee -- definitely got the last laugh this time around.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com



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