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Editorial | On Politics

Isle GOP banking on ‘down-ticket’ contests

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It feels like the 2010 campaign season started sometime around the end of the Ariyoshi administration, but we are still six weeks away from knowing who is running for what.

July 20 at 4:30 p.m. is supposed to be the candidate filing deadline. I say "supposed to be" because two years ago the state pols managed to fumble that one with the late Councilman Duke Bainum rushing in to file, as Ann Kobayashi ran for mayor and then-Rep. Kirk Caldwell didn’t have enough time to file for Kobayashi’s seat.

It was a distracting week of political mayhem that sorted itself out, with newcomer Isaac Choy winning Caldwell’s seat.

The real story remained: The Hawaii GOP continued on its path to political irrelevancy by not fielding a candidate in 20 House races and two Senate seats.

Even before the race started Democrats were guaranteed 25 wins.

GOP leaders today vow not to quit before the game starts. In fact, Dylan Nonaka, the GOP’s executive director, says there will be a candidate for all 51 House seats and most contested Senate slots. They have a way to go, with only 25 Republican candidates pulling papers to run in House contests.

"We learned from ’08," Nonaka says.

This year, Republicans feel that with the big boys battling in the races for governor, Congress and even mayor, there will not be enough institutional Democratic support from unions to help the so-called "down-ticket" races.

Democrats scoff in response, noting that the GOP plans "always are more of a hope, like a three-cushion shot, instead of a real plan."

The interesting wrinkle this year is that there are lots of nonpartisan races, and both Democrats and Republicans plan to play in all of them.

Dante Carpenter, Democratic Party chairman, and Nonaka both say their parties will be helping in the races for City Council and mayor. There could be a lot of action.

Already, 12 have taken out papers for Rod Tam’s Nuuanu Council seat while half that number are already looking at Charles Djou’s Hawaii Kai Council slot.

Donovan Dela Cruz can’t run for re-election to the Council, so he is switching to a race for mayor, and four more are interested in his job.

It may be that the GOP will find its wins not so much with the Republican label, but with the "NP" in the county contests.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at rborreca@ staradvertiser.com.

 

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