PBS chief to run for chairman of Democratic Party
Mike McCartney faces Jimmy Toyama when the Democrats choose a leader this month
Mike McCartney, president and CEO of PBS-Hawaii, is running for chairman of the state Democratic Party.
McCartney says he has taken a leave of absence from the statewide public television operation and will step down next month.
The Democrats will pick a new leader during their May 26-28 convention in Waikiki.
The current party chairman, Brickwood Galuteria, says he will not run for re-election, but is considering running for lieutenant governor or concentrating on his job as a morning radio personality.
Also running for party chairman is Jimmy Toyama, who was Oahu County chairman for the Democrats until he was defeated by former state Rep. Annelle Amaral during the Oahu party convention last week.
McCartney previously said he was considering either a campaign for governor or lieutenant governor this year, but withdrew in favor of working as a party leader.
"I believe in the party, and I want to get back into public service," McCartney said.
He served 10 years in the state Senate and two years as state director of human resources under former Gov. Ben Cayetano.
"For me the community is my canvas and politics is my paint," McCartney said.
"We have to create hope and not just say there is something wrong with the Republicans. We want to say what is good about the Democrats," McCartney said.
Toyama, who had opposed Galuteria for party chairman two years ago, said he is running for the unpaid position "to restore faith in the Democratic Party."
"We need to accelerate and infuse the party with a deeper sense of activism," Toyama said.
McCartney served for 5 1/2 years at the helm of PBS and took the station from being a state agency to a private nonprofit.
"It was a great experience, and I hope that I left it better than when I found it," McCartney said.
He previously served as campaign manager for former state Sen. Charles Toguchi, former Rep. Rey Graulty and Cayetano.
The 18-member PBS board of directors will select a new PBS chief.
None of the general managers of Hawaii's network-affiliated television stations would take the PBS Hawaii gig if approached.
The name of Mike Rosenberg, president and general manager of ABC-affiliate KITV, has been whispered as a possible candidate, but he said he had not been approached.
"I love the job I have," he said, adding, "any speculation ... would be academic because I'm under contract."
John Fink, vice president and general manager of NBC-affiliate KHNL-TV and the WB affiliate KFVE-TV, was intrigued by the news of McCartney's planned departure but is happy where he is as well.
Fink has extensive experience negotiating broadcast rights for sporting events with PBS Hawaii neighbor and landlord the University of Hawaii.
"I'm very happy where I am, and look forward to our continued growth and development," he said.
Joe McNamara, president and general manager of Fox affiliate KHON-TV, has been in his position only since January. "I am committed 100 percent to continuing to run KHON," he said. He also had not been approached by PBS Hawaii.
Rick Blangiardi, senior vice president and general manager of KGMB, will not pursue the appointment, either.
"My strongest recommendation is Linda Brock," he said, referring to his former marketing director at KHON, which he led until Emmis' sale of the station closed earlier this year. "She has the right stuff -- knowledge of the business and the heart and feel to take PBS to a different level. Locally it would be a great handoff from Mike McCartney."
Galuteria said he had originally considered remaining as party chairman or running for the Windward Oahu seat to be vacated by Sen. Bob Hogue, who is running for the 2nd Congressional District.
"Now I have two options: to do nothing, decompress and concentrate on my radio show, and the second option is to run for lieutenant governor. I will make a decision before the convention," Galuteria said.
The Democrats are facing an investigation brought by the Hawaii Republican Party, which claims the Democrats in Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts illegally laundered campaign money for Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown.