Election 2002

Mink’s daughter
blasts Dems

She wants voters, rather than
Democrats, to pick a replacement

Cayetano under fire

By B.J. Reyes
Associated Press

The daughter of late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink said yesterday she is angered by what appears to be an attempt to manipulate the electoral process in favor of the Democratic Party in the race to succeed her mother in Hawaii's 2nd District.

Gwendolyn Mink said in an interview that the state should make sure voters get the chance to pick their next representative.

She criticized what she called "forces that seemed to be interested in ensuring an outcome that was more favorable, than in assuring that the people have a full say in the matter."

The state's attempts to change the date of a special election and to replace her mother's name on the ballot fly in the face of the democratic principles Patsy Mink stood for, her daughter said.

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Monday denied the state's request to move up the date of a special election to fill Patsy Mink's unexpired term to coincide with the Nov. 5 general election. That special election will be held Nov. 30 as scheduled.

Yesterday, Attorney General Earl Anzai filed a petition asking that the Democratic Party be allowed to replace Mink's name on the general election ballot because her death Sept. 28 occurred just two days after a deadline for the party to name a replacement.

"All of those things coming together seemed to sort of choke off real choices to the voters," Gwendolyn Mink said. "It was my concern not to commingle my mother's memory with a process that was restrictive of democracy."

Holding a special election to fill the remainder of her mother's term would create an incumbent who could stake a claim to the seat that would be hard to overcome, she said.

She said voters would best be served by having a special election if her mother is re-elected posthumously, arguing that when incumbent U.S. House members from Minnesota and Massachusetts died in 2000 and 2001, their terms went unfilled for months until special elections could be held to fill the vacancies.

As for the state's motion to allow the party to replace her mother's name on the ballot, "the erasure of my mother's name from the ballot in an extraordinary sort of legal maneuver would be very insulting and painful," Mink said.

"Beyond that, it again raises questions for me about the openness and the participatory-ness of the whole election process."

Gov. Ben Cayetano has defended his decision to file petitions with the state Supreme Court, saying he was trying to save Hawaii taxpayers the $2 million that each special election would cost.

He also denies that any manipulation is taking place, saying the law is clear that a special election must be held to fill Mink's unexpired term.

Aside from the political tumult that has resulted from her mother's death, Gwendolyn Mink also discussed her mother's legacy and what life has been like for her and her father, John, since her mother's Aug. 30 hospitalization with viral pneumonia stemming from a case of chickenpox.

She denied speculation that has surfaced, in the form of letters to the editor and statements by Mink's political foes, that the family or the Democratic Party withheld information about her mother's illness to ensure a party victory.

"We did not provide information that would contribute to the media circus, but we were certainly honest that my mother was very sick, that she was in intensive care, that she had pneumonia, and we did not withhold that information from the public," Mink said. "But we would not, under any circumstances, violate my mother's medical privacy to talk about some of the details of her sickness.

"I think the media needs to reflect, and all people need to reflect, on the kinds of invasions and cruelties that get visited upon people in the name of providing a story," she said.

Through tears, Mink described how difficult it has been for her in the week since her mother's death.

"It's all very unbelievable to me," she said.

"My mother was such a vibrant and energetic person, so full of life and joy."

Mink said she has taken the current semester off from her teaching duties at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she is a professor of Women's Studies and the department's acting chair.

And while some have mentioned her father as a replacement for her mother in Congress -- she does not believe he will seek the unexpired term -- Gwendolyn Mink said she had no immediate plans to follow in her mother's footsteps.

"I'm not the candidate in the family," she said.


Cayetano under fire on Mink

By Crystal Kua

Gov. Ben Cayetano fended off barbs from all directions yesterday for his decision to ask the state Supreme Court to allow the Democratic Party to replace U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink on the Nov. 5 general election ballot with another Democrat.

Election 2002

Cayetano said his actions are based on the letter and the spirit of the law and are intended to eliminate the need for a costly special election that would be needed if Mink were elected posthumously.

"And let me say something about some of the Democrats who have been making noises about this, OK? ... I wish they would kind of quench their own personal ambitions to try and do what's sensible and right," Cayetano said.

The latest salvo came late yesterday from Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, who came out against replacing Mink's name on the ballot.

"Hawaii's voice in Congress is important, and we must elect the best candidate to represent Hawaii in the 108th Congress," Hirono said of the congressional term that begins Jan. 3.

Hirono also criticized Cayetano's position that a special election be held to fill the remaining weeks of Mink's term.

"If we want to avoid spending taxpayers' money, then we should not have a special election for the unexpired term," she said. "I would favor having one election for the full two-year term that begins in January."

There is now the potential for three elections within the next three months:

>> The Nov. 5 general election, which would include Mink's name on the 2nd congressional district ballot unless the Supreme Court rules that Democrats can replace her.

>> The Nov. 30 special election to fill the last month of Mink's current term.

>> A Jan. 4 special election to fill the new two-year term if Mink posthumously wins the Nov. 5 election.

Mink died Sept. 28, two days after the deadline for the Democratic Party to name a substitute candidate.

Cayetano said he is asking the state Supreme Court to direct Chief Election Officer Dwayne Yoshina to extend that deadline to allow the Democratic Party to name another candidate in place of Mink.

"The law that we're looking at provides this," he said.

Replacing Mink on the ballot would eliminate the need for the Jan. 4 special election, which would cost $2 million.

State Rep. Bob McDermott, the GOP candidate running for Mink's seat, said yesterday there is another way taxpayers can avoid a Jan. 4 election.

"If they want to save the $2 million, just elect me," said McDermott, who's also criticized the governor's move.

McDermott said he believes the Democrats went this route because they felt the election between him and Mink was "too close for comfort."

Cayetano countered: "It's hard to respond to a guy who, just before Patsy died, was demanding that we do exactly what we're doing now. He's not even close. I think Mr. McDermott will find out how good his poll is on election day."

One person whom Cayetano had difficulty responding to was Mink's daughter, Gwendolyn, who criticized both having a special election to fill the remainder of her mother's term and replacing her mother on the general election ballot.

"I don't want to get into a debate or argument with someone who has suffered a terrible loss and is grieving, but a quick reading of the U.S. Constitution will tell you why there should be an election," he said.

Former Gov. John Waihee yesterday took his name out of the running to fill Mink's remaining term and instead endorsed Mink's husband, John. Waihee has been mentioned as a possible replacement candidate should the Supreme Court, which is made up of mostly Waihee appointees, agree with Cayetano.

Hawaii Democratic Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba said the party has not pre-selected a candidate and all interested candidates will be allowed to address its central committee at its Saturday meeting; Akiba said the issue of picking a replacement candidate is not on the agenda and will not be on the agenda if the court does not rule by then. The selection process would not be open to the public, she said.

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