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Hannemann picks ex-parks chief as gubernatorial running mate

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 9:37 p.m. HST, Jun 3, 2014

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann has tapped Les Chang, the city's former parks and recreation director, as his running mate in his independent campaign for governor.

Hannemann courted several potential candidates for lieutenant governor,

including Dick Tomey, the popular former University of Hawaii football coach, before deciding on Chang. The retired Air Force colonel was Hannemann's parks and recreation director from 2004 to 2010.

Chang has never run for elective office before and does not have name recognition with voters. Since the Hawaii Independent Party only formed this year and has little money or political infrastructure, its early success will depend on whether Hannemann and Chang have the ability to mount credible campaigns.

Chang, 64, who lives in Kaneohe, said he considers himself a nonpolitical person running for political office. "But I think that's what represents the Independent Party," he said, "because most people think that way. They may say they're Democrats, they may say they're Republicans, but when it comes time to vote, they vote who they think the best candidate is."

Hannemann said the fact that neither he nor Chang have primary opponents will allow them to build for the November general election.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is facing state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary. Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui has to contend with state Sen. Clayton Hee and former television reporter Mary Zanakis in the Democratic primary.

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona does not have a serious GOP primary challenger for governor. Elwin Ahu, a former state judge and senior pastor at New Hope Metro, is up against Warner "Kimo" Sutton, a businessman and Republican activist, in the GOP primary for lieutenant governor.

Tuesday was the filing deadline for candidates.

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