Candidates get beaten before the election in Hawaii
If politics is a blood sport, perhaps the Hawaii version could use some closer adult supervision.
Someone could get hurt out there. Just ask Rep. Kirk Caldwell.
In the week and a half since the candidate filing deadline, we have seen the rebirth of Duke Bainum's political career, the certain time out for Caldwell, the both short- and long-term challenge to Mayor Mufi Hannemann and the long-troubled Office of Elections blamed for everything except global warming.
Starting with the elections office: The wonder is how we hold elections at all. The elections office was always suspect when the lieutenant governor's office ran it because voters always figured that politicians were pulling something funny.
Now the elections office is run by someone picked by the Elections Commission, which in turn is selected by Legislature's leaders. The fellow they hired is a professional Wisconsin government lawyer, Kevin Cronin, with limited experience in elections, a profound dislike for speaking in public or on the record and, until July 25, not even a Hawaii registered voter.
The week ended with GOP Sen. Sam Slom howling that Cronin be fired, GOP Gov. Linda Lingle calling Cronin's operation "shocking and an embarrassment" and suggesting that perhaps the United Nations should add Hawaii to the list of places needing remedial voter education.
The Legislature took the Office of Elections out of the lieutenant governor's hands in part because of concerns that the Lingle administration was not letting elections officials testify until their testimony had been vetted by Lingle officials. But it is certain that no lieutenant governor responsible for elections would allow a week like the one presided over by Cronin to go on.
Today the political fallout is just starting to settle. Caldwell is out of both his safe Manoa House district and his chance to run for the City Council. City Clerk Denise De Costa said she was assured by the elections office that Caldwell was able to run for the Council, then De Costa said the elections office said Caldwell had not withdrawn from the House race before he filed for Council and was out of two races.
Interestingly, the last-minute switch means that Bainum, Hannemann's erstwhile opponent in the last mayoral election, is guaranteed a seat on the Council and is not likely to support Hannemann's rail transit plans.
All the results are likely to fuel the general feeling of unease with politics as usual and increase the calls for a Constitutional Convention to provide some padding in this full-contact sport.