Thursday, March 10, 2005

"I would stand on a street corner and hold a sign for somebody I believe in."

Walter Dods
Hawaii Democrat

Dods rules out
’06 run for gov

The former banker's decision
opens up the Democratic slate

Walter Dods, retired banker and Democratic Party stalwart, will not run for governor next year.

Dods, who in June 2002 considered running in the Democratic primary election, told the Star-Bulletin that he will not be a candidate next year. It opens the way for other Democrats to seek the governorship.

"I have decided to get involved in public service, but not elective public service," Dods said.

The 63-year-old retired chief executive officer and chairman of First Hawaiian Bank negotiated the merger that formed BancWest, and then in 2001 negotiated the acquisition by BNP Paribas of France.

Dods said he will accept a position as a visiting professor and executive in residence at Chaminade University.

"I have had a good business career, and I think I can contribute by advising young people about how to survive and thrive in the business world," Dods said.

On a political note, Dods said he would remain active in the Democratic Party and would support candidates and causes he favors.

"I will work to help individual candidates I believe in, but I will not be running for office," Dods said.

Two years ago Dods had encouraged speculation that he would run for governor but then decided against it because of concerns by his family.

"My children said I have given 30-some years to the community already, and they are worried how this would affect my health," Dods said in 2002.

"It was a tough decision. I received tremendous support over the past 10 days, but it was asking too much of my family," Dods said in June 2002.

Yesterday, Brickwood Galuteria, Hawaii Democratic Party chairman, said Dods' announcement would give the party time to prepare for a race against incumbent Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

"I think there is a certain respect level we all have for Walter Dods," Galuteria said. "I've talked about him being here to support the ticket."

Dods said he also wanted to be able to help the Democrats.

"I have been a Democrat all my life; I probably will most likely help Democrats. I really do believe in the basic foundation of the Democratic Party.

"I will try to contribute brain power and financially for people I like. I would stand on a street corner and hold a sign for somebody I believe in," Dods said.

Dods has been the chairman for campaigns of both U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and former Gov. George Ariyoshi. So far, four Democrats have expressed an interest in running for governor.

Rep. Kirk Caldwell (D, Manoa), an attorney who is starting his second term in the House, says he has been approached to run for governor and is interested.

"Several people have talked to me in the past six months, including some top elected officials. They think I have some of the necessary characteristics, and I didn't shut the door on it," Caldwell said.

He said he would have to discuss the matter with his family and supporters.

"Before I made up my mind, I would talk to a lot of people. You have to go through a process to make sure it is right for me," Caldwell said.

Also considering the race is Mike McCartney, chief executive officer of PBS Hawaii and a former state legislator and Cabinet officer for former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

"Running for governor is something that I am seriously considering, although I have not yet made a decision," McCartney said.

"It's a big step for anyone to take, and there are many factors that need to be considered before a final decision is made," McCartney said.

Also considering the race is Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua).

Asked if she would run, the Judiciary Committee chairwoman, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002, said, "If the Democrats are able to get behind one candidate, sure, I'd run."

The fourth Democrat exploring the race is Tony Gill, a labor lawyer and son of former U.S. Rep. and Lt. Gov. Tom Gill, and brother of former City Council Chairman Gary Gill.

"I am considering it, but such things are not done on a wing and prayer, and not considered lightly," Gill said.

Gill, who has never served in public office, is the Democratic Party's Oahu County vice chairman. He said he thought that he and other Democrats would have a good chance next year.

"I think Lingle is completely beatable," Gill said.

Lingle said yesterday she had no comment on Dods' decision.

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com