June 2 is the filing deadline for prospective candidates interested in running in the upcoming 2020 elections. Those who might be interested in entering the race for County Council, the State House of Representatives, or the State Senate – need to have by the end of that day gathered the required signatures and had them confirmed by the office of elections.
The primary election is on August 8th. So far there are 10 members of the State House of Representatives and 4 members of the State Senate, who are running for reelection, who have no opposition whatsoever. Unless someone files prior to June 2, they will be getting a free ride, all the way through the primary on August 8 and the general on November 4th.
This is every incumbent’s dream, as no opposition means no campaign. It also frees up the person to help fundraise and assist other candidates while not having to worry about their own race.
I believe strongly that competitive primary elections are a good thing. No incumbent wants to hear this but competition makes us all better and Hawaii is essentially a single-party state, with very little political competition. I say this as the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, and I understand it is not a popular thing to say among incumbent Democrats.
The Republican Party has a presence, as does the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and now the newly formed Aloha Aina Party – but none have grown to be a force sufficient to challenge the entrenchment of incumbents elected under the Democratic Party banner.
The consequence of such dominance, in my personal and unofficial opinion, is that too many of those who serve in public office and label themselves as Democrats are in actuality, Democrats in name only or DINO’s.
The Hawaii State legislature now dominated by Democrats fails year after year to support the Party’s core legislative priorities. The legislature’s leadership, composed entirely of Democrats are known to block, dilute and often outright kill legislative initiatives that propose to increase environmental protection and expand economic justice.
The COVID-19 situation has changed the way campaigns are being run in the short term with zero door-to-door, no traditional political rallies and minimal sign-waving on the highway. This gives those with existing name recognition a huge advantage.
My hope is that Hawaii residents will continue to step up and run for office. The more choice we can give our community, the better the outcome. My further hope is that all will get involved at some level, researching the candidates and issues, picking a campaign, donating a little money, and volunteering to help. New candidates especially, need funding assistance to purchase signs and do the mailings necessary to get the word out.
Being actively involved in the political process is key to holding those elected accountable.
Ensuring that you actually vote on August 8 is of course most important. This year it will be an all mail-in ballot process. Do not expect to go to your traditional polling place to cast your vote because it will be closed – but this is another story.
Seriously thinking about becoming a candidate? If so, reading the below two short pieces might be helpful.