POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 18, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 12:08 a.m. HST, Aug 23, 2010
The Democratic Party of Hawaii has decided not to challenge several candidates for the state Legislature in the primary election who do not meet the party's standards for running for political office.
The party asked the state Office of Elections last week to disqualify three candidates and subsequently found three others who were not in good standing because they had not been Democrats for a minimum of 60 days before the candidate filing deadline. The Office of Elections responded that it was up to the party, not the state, to determine who is a Democrat.
The party was planning on going to Circuit Court to challenge the candidates. But Oahu Democrats passed a resolution at a meeting Saturday recommending that the candidates not be disqualified. Oahu Democrats met again Monday night and urged the party to take no further action against the candidates, who are all from Oahu.
The resolution from Oahu Democrats said the rule has never been used in previous election cycles and was unknown by most people, including party members.
The three candidates identified last week are Daniel Davidson in Senate District 9 in Kaimuki, Kaleo Farias in House District 44 in Nanakuli and Jason Pascua in House District 48 in Kaneohe.
The other three candidates are Albert Lee in House District 18, Patrick Koh in House District 29 and Lei Sharsh in House District 32.
The party said all six candidates joined the party shortly before the candidate filing deadline in late July. The party's rules require new members to file applications at least 60 days before the candidate filing deadline to run for office under the party's banner.
One candidate apparently applied for party membership the day after filing as a candidate and taking an oath that she was a Democrat.
Pascua, who was the only candidate involved who was at the Oahu Democrats' meeting on Saturday, said some of his supporters have already taken down his campaign signs, thinking he was disqualified.
"As a new candidate, I am faced with a tougher task to reach out to my community versus a name that has been fixed in the eyes of my district for years," he said in a statement. "I wish this has not happened to me, but the damage is done and I must drive forward with the hopes that all the voters in my district is aware that I am still in the running and I am asking for their vote."
Dante Carpenter, the party's chairman, said the party will likely review its rules after finding "inequities in our own system." He said the party wants an opportunity to vet candidates who run as Democrats.
In a letter Monday to Carpenter, Tony Gill, chairman of the Oahu Democrats, said the candidates involved should be informed they violated the party's rules.
"The DPH should communicate to the candidates involved that although they have violated the rules of the party and are in gross breach of constitutional requirements, the DPH will not bring suit against them," Gill said. "The DPH should counsel these candidates to become good members of their precincts and districts, learn the rules, and understand who it is that they are presumably running on behalf of.
"It should be made clear that the party reserves the right to disqualify any person, however well-meaning, who cannot or will not comply with party rules," Gill said. "The DPH should remind these candidates that it is mandatory that they return the party platform surveys, on pain of losing the party's endorsement."