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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Justices clear to rule in Harris resign-to-run case

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Attorneys for Mayor Jeremy Harris filed a final brief with the Hawai'i Supreme Court yesterday, clearing the way for the five justices to rule at any time as to whether Harris must resign immediately because of his announced plans to run for governor.

Mayor Jeremy Harris has plans to run for governor.

Advertiser library photo

Harris is appealing a March 11 ruling by Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna that Harris became an official candidate for governor May 15, 2001, when he filed an organizational report with the state Campaign Spending Commission. McKenna ruled in favor of Russell Blair, a former district judge and former state senator who filed a lawsuit demanding that Harris resign immediately.

In a court brief filed last week, Blair and his attorneys argued that the intention of delegates to the 1978 Constitutional Convention were clear when they approved the "resign-to-run" law. Blair argued that elected officials became official candidates as soon as they announced plans to seek another office.

But Harris disagreed and argued that the "common sense and reasonable" interpretation of the law was that it took effect when a candidate filed nomination papers, according to the brief filed by Harris attorney William McCorriston. The deadline for filing nomination papers is July 23.

McCorriston said it was not the intention of the delegates that campaign spending registration would be the trigger for resignation.

McCorriston said a candidate is required to register with the Campaign Spending Commission when he or she raises more than $100. To require all candidates who meet this requirement to resign "would lead to absurd results," he said.

"Filing campaign spending reports does not make a person capable of being elected," he said in the brief. "Only by filing nomination papers can someone seeking public office become eligible to be elected."