Honolulu Lite


Monday, August 13, 2001

Hawaii’s legal lottery:
The race for mayor

I'm thinking of running for mayor because, well, everyone else is. There's nothing like a midterm special election to bring out the political riffraff. Why? Because as elections go, it's pretty cheap. You don't have to bankroll both a primary and general election campaign. You don't have to worry about a runoff. All you have to do is get more votes than the rest of the yahoos running and, bingo, people start calling you "yer honor."

There's a lot of irony in the upcoming mayor's race. Jeremy Harris has to resign as mayor before he can run for governor. That's because the powers-that-were were so afraid of Harris' former boss, then-Mayor Frank Fasi, that they passed the resign-to-run law. And it worked. Fasi resigned to run for governor. Without his headline-grabbing position as mayor, he lost. And he hasn't won a race since, even though he's run variously under Democrat, Republican, Independent, Reform, Prohibition, Natural Law, Pansexual Peace and the Keep On Treadin' On Me political party banners. (Don't hold me to all of those. Frankly, I lost track after the first half-dozen times he switched parties.)

Fasi has become the most famous unelectable politician in Hawaii history. But he sees a sliver of hope in the 2002 special mayor's election.

The mayor's race is supposedly nonpartisan, the political equivalent of "Don't ask, don't tell." But Fasi adheres to the "Don't bother to ask, I'll tell you anyway" policy. So he's letting everyone know that he's running in the nonpartisan race as a partisan Republican. Like it matters. Fasi does have a chance, ironically because the same law that forced him to resign so long ago has created his best chance to win an election in decades.

So far, something like 3,854 people have said they will run for mayor. I guess now that I'm considering a run, it would be 3,855. But that number will go up as more and more people realize that in a state that does not have legalized gambling, running for mayor is the closest you're going to get to playing and winning the lottery.

It's a numbers game. Say there are 100,000 voters. Say there are 5,000 candidates. The winning candidate only has to get about 15 votes to win. Now, I know at least seven people who will vote for me. I think if I'm real nice to a couple of relatives on my wife's side, I might scare up a couple more. Then with the large upcounty "confusion" vote, I might just slip into office with a few votes to spare. (We'll do a more careful analysis of the numbers after the election.)

Fasi is thinking along the same lines. He no doubt sees his big competitors so far as former Councilman Mufi Hannemann, soon-to-be-former Councilman Duke Bainum, former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, former sportscaster Bob Hogue, a couple of former pro football players, several former entertainers, a former dog trainer and a former Waikiki street mime.

Considering the field, maybe they should change the name of the office from "Mayor" to "Former."

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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