Campaign workers
wonder what’s next

By Rod Antone

Mufi Hannemann supporter Sheila Apisa said she was home watching television when she heard the news that Mayor Jeremy Harris was dropping out of the race for governor.

"You've got to be kidding me," she remembers thinking.

Apisa and countless other campaign volunteers were left wondering what to do next, as Harris' announcement meant there would be no mayoral election. Mayoral candidates Hannemann, Duke Bainum, Keith Kaneshiro and Frank Fasi all were left without a race. Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono quickly switched from the mayor's race to the gubernatorial contest.

Apisa said she and other volunteers put in at least one to two days a week working on Hannemann's campaign -- hours of sign-waving, answering phones and preparing for a now-canceled mayoral race.

Still, Apisa said she would do it all again, and she added that all she and other Hannemann supporters are waiting for is a call to battle.

"Whatever he chooses to do I would support," said Apisa. "For Mufi, I would do anything."

Some people already have ideas about what Hannemann and other former mayoral candidates could do now.

When asked about who else might jump on the Democratic ticket for governor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said, "I've been hearing talk about Mufi Hannemann and Duke Bainum."

"They were running for the mayor's position," said Inouye. "But I don't know, I haven't talked to them."

"Wow, he said that?" responded Bainum volunteer John White. "I haven't heard that, but we're ready if that's the case."

For White and other Bainum volunteers, the chance to focus again would give them an opportunity to fight a feeling of "numbness" that has been with them since Harris' announcement Thursday.

Harris volunteer and city Transportation Services Director Cheryl Soon said she and the mayor's other Cabinet members heard the news about 40 minutes before the public did. All Soon said she knows for sure is that the campaign will work to support the Democratic Party in general, though no candidate in particular.

"We hugged him (Harris) and said, 'We're with you,'" said Soon. Talking to other volunteers after the announcement, Soon adds, "Some people told me we could have done it."

The fate of other volunteers for would-be candidates for mayor are more certain. While Hirono prepares her supporters for a run for governor, former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro returns to his law practice, and his supporters will have to wait until the next mayor's race, in 2004.

Meanwhile, Hannemann supporter Debbie Hartman smiled as she sat at her booth yesterday at the 2002 Democratic State Convention in the Sheraton-Waikiki Hotel.

With a large "Mufi" sign hanging above her head and "Mufi" bumper stickers and pamphlets spread in front of her, Hartman made sure to ask each person who visited her booth the same thing: "What do you think Mufi should do since he can't run for mayor?"

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