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Democrats won’t seek to legally block Laura Thielen candidacy

The Democratic Party of Hawaii will not file a legal challenge to Laura Thielen’s candidacy for state Senate as a Democrat.

Dante Carpenter, the party’s chairman, said today that the party’s state central committee will instead consider whether to reprimand, censure or expel Thielen. “We’re going to pursue our own internal cause of action within our rules, from censure to expulsion,” he said.

The party had determined that Thielen, a director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, is not eligible to run for office as a Democrat because she has not been a member in good standing for at least six months. Thielen had asked for an exception — a process allowed by party rules at the time — but she was denied.

Thielen chose to file as a Democrat anyway in the primary against state Sen. Pohai Ryan.

Thielen said in a new release, “It’s great that the voters in Kailua, Waimanalo and Hawaii Kai are the ones who will choose their next state senator. As I’ve been going door-to-door campaigning, voters have told me in no uncertain terms that they don’t want anyone interfering with their right to choose.”

The party’s state central committee had authorized Carpenter to bring a legal challenge. The deadline for the party to object to Thielen’s candidacy in Circuit Court is Tuesday.

“We think we’re obviously right, ” Carpenter said. “We just want to honor our rules.”

But he said the party did not have the financial resources to expend on a court challenge. He said that if the party did take internal action to punish Thielen, it could have an influence on voters before the August primary. “I certainly think it might,” he said.

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