State of Hawaii

Congressional race
stays low-key

Leading candidates rely
on face-to-face contact and
sign-waving campaigns
to attract voters

Candidates Q&A

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

With little time to prepare or raise funds for advertising, the leading candidates to fill the last vacant seat in the 2003 U.S. Congress are focusing on face-to-face and sign-waving campaigns.

"I've been out sign-waving everyday and going door-to-door, things that don't cost a lot of money," said former state Rep. Bob McDermott, who lost to the late Rep. Patsy Mink as the GOP candidate for the seat in the Nov. 5 general election.

A special election on Jan. 4 for the two-year term representing the 2nd Congressional District of rural Oahu and the neighbor islands has attracted 44 candidates.

The vacancy was created by Mink's death on Sept. 28. On the general election ballot, she had 99,127 votes to McDermott's 70,647.

Other major candidates among the 14 Republicans are state Reps. Barbara Marumoto and Chris Halford and former Rep. Jim Rath.

Marumoto, who has served 24 years in the House, has been running television ads with endorsements from the GOP's old guard, including former U.S. Sen. Hiram Fong and former U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki. Like many candidates, however, Marumoto lives in the 1st District and may not be familiar to 2nd District voters.

"This campaign is just like a 30-day wonder," said Marumoto, adding that she hopes to attract Republicans and moderate Democrats.

"I think that people will realize that Hawaii needs bipartisan representation in Congress, especially when the majority in the House and Senate are Republican and the administration is Republican," she said. "I'm saying, 'Why elect another Democrat?'"

The election of Hawaii's first Republican governor in 40 years shows that people who usually identify themselves as Democrats want change and are less averse to voting for a Republican, Marumoto said.

The Democrats have three strong candidates in the race, which could split the traditional Democratic vote, giving a strong Republican a chance to win, she said.

McDermott, however, sees that strong Republican as him, not Marumoto.

"Barbara's a dud. God bless her, she's a dud," said McDermott. "She doesn't even show up in the polls. My opponent in this race is Ed Case, not her," he said.

Among the leading Democratic contenders is former state Rep. Ed Case, who won a Nov. 30 special election to serve out the remaining five weeks of Mink's term, earning him the title of congressman in his effort to get the job on a more permanent basis.

Case gained statewide attention and came in a close second in the Democratic primary race for governor in September.

Other top Democratic candidates are former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, who lost in the general election for lieutenant governor, and state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who, unlike Case, Matsunaga, McDermott and Marumoto, actually lives in the 2nd District.

Hanabusa, a labor lawyer, has campaigned with a promise to represent labor in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Matsunaga has support from public worker unions and campaigned on his record in the state Senate.

McDermott said that with so many candidates for the single seat, "it's a crap shoot, to be honest about it."

State of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --