Mink victory spawns growing field of hopefuls
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
Even as election results triggered a special vote to decide who will serve out the late Patsy Mink's term in the 108th Congress, the competitive field promised to grow even more crowded.
Former state Rep. Ed Case
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa
Former City Councilman Mufi Hannemann
Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Clayton Hee
Former state Rep. Bob McDermott
Former Gov. John Waihee
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Hirono dodged questions about her prospects, including whether she might run for the 2nd congressional district seat representing rural O'ahu and the Neighbor Islands. "I'm certainly not ruling anything out at this point," she said at a press conference.
If she does run, Hirono will join a field that reads like a Who's Who of political heavyweights: state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, former Gov. John Waihee, former City Councilman Mufi Hannemann, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Clayton Hee and former state Rep. Ed Case.
The candidate filing deadline for the Jan. 4 congressional special election is Nov. 20.
Many others were weighing their political options after Tuesday's election: Hirono running mate and former state Sen. Matt Matsunaga, former state Sen. John Carroll and former state Rep. Bob McDermott, who lost to Mink.
Newly elected state Sen. Bob Hogue said he had been approached to run for the seat, but had not made a decision.
Hogue, like Hanabusa, would not have to give up his seat to run and would have a position to return to in case he lost.
With a Republican governor soon to take office, some political insiders believe prominent members of Hawai'i's business community might join the race.
But given the brief time available to raise money for a campaign, it's clear that name recognition will be a key factor in the race, along with experience.
Matsunaga said he has both. "It's always been one of my lifelong dreams to serve the people of Hawai'i in Congress and follow in my father's footsteps," he said yesterday of the late Sen. Spark Matsunaga.
McDermott, who received 40 percent of votes, hopes to be endorsed by the local Republican Party, which could lead to financial backing from the national party.
"Forty percent is pretty solid that's 40 percent against a legacy," he said. "I hope that's a message to other Republicans: If you enter, you'll be a vote spoiler and a vote splitter. I feel I've earned it. ... I certainly believe I can win at this point."
McDermott said he may challenge the general election results, which gave Mink a considerable margin. Attorneys in Washington are looking into whether Mink was ineligible to run, he said.
A Nov. 30 election will determine who will serve the final five weeks of Mink's term. More than 30 candidates are vying for that honor, including her husband, John. Some also plan to run Jan. 4.
Mink served in Congress for more than 20 years. She died Sept. 28, two days after the deadline to have her name removed from the general election ballot.
Advertiser staff writer Will Hoover contributed to this report. Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com or 535-8103.