Not all candidates have filed to run for the state House and Senate, but the Hawaii State Teachers Association already knows who it is supporting in the Aug. 13 primary election.

The filing deadline is June 7, but the union announced its preferred slate last Thursday, nearly all of them incumbents and all but five Democrats.

The endorsements are based on candidate questionnaires, interviews and voting history.

“We carefully reviewed their stances on important issues,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee in a press release May 19. “So we are confident these candidates deserve teachers’ votes.”

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee center during press conference held on 22 may 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Asked Saturday why the HSTA didn’t wait to see who else might jump into the 51 House and 14 Senate races, Rosenlee said, “Since the months of June and July are the only time that teachers have off for significant vacations, those two volunteer bodies do not meet during the summer, even in election years.”

He continued: “That’s why our list of recommendations is coming out so early. But they will meet again in August and can once again select candidates for the general, and make any adjustments, depending on who won or lost during the primary.”

Sorry, House Ed Chairs

Several of the candidates who were recommended have yet to officially file to run.

At least one candidate who has filed, Kim Coco Iwamoto, might have been an appealing choice, as she is a former elected member of the Board of Education with strong views on education. She joins House Rep. Karl Rhoads, a fellow Democrat seeking to fill the seat being vacated by state Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland.

Senate incumbents not getting HSTA’s nod this year include Glenn Wakai and Laura Thielen  — both Democrats — and Republican Sam Slom. (HSTA is backing Slom’s Democratic opponent, Stanley Chang.)

Campaign signs for David Ige and Mark Takai at the Hawaii State Teachers Association office, June 2014.

Campaign signs for David Ige and Mark Takai at the HSTA offices in Honolulu, June 2014.

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

UPDATE: House incumbents missing the cut include Roy Takumi and Takashi Ohno, the chair and vice chair, respectively, of the House Education Committee. Republican Gene Ward and four other GOP reps get the nod, however.

An HSTA spokesperson advised that people not read too much into the non-recommendations. Some candidates, for example, did not apply in time for consideration; in the case of Takumi and Ohno, the spokesperson said, they did not apply at all.

The teachers union is the fourth-largest labor group in Hawaii, with more than 12,000 members. At election time, those members and their friends and family can be instrumental in sign-waving and canvassing for favored candidates.

Education issues loomed large at the Hawaii Legislature this year, including a successful push for air conditioning in more classrooms and a failed effort to exempt educators from the part of the state Ethics Code involving student trips.

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