The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission unveiled its redistricting plans Wednesday. While a subcommittee reached consensus on state House and Senate seats, it was unable to do so for the lines between Hawaii’s two congressional districts.
The two potential plans differ on two key points: One plan includes Mililani in the First Congressional District, and the other includes the triangle-shaped area between Farrington Highway and Kalaeloa Boulevard instead.
That section of Leeward Oahu includes Ko Olina, until recently the home of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. In June, she announced she’d rented an apartment in Kakaako and had listed her Ko Olina house for sale. The move allows her to register to vote in her district.
Whether Hanabusa’s Ko Olina home falls into her district was never a legal issue. Unlike state law, which requires that lawmakers reside in their district, federal law requires only that reps live in the state they represent. In fact, when Hanabusa was sworn in in January, she and Rep. Mazie Hirono lived in each other’s districts. Hirono has already announced a run for U.S. Senate, and Hanabusa is still weighing her options. Senators, obviously, are required only to live in the state they represent as well.
But Hanabusa’s out-of-district address did become a campaign issue as she attempted to unseat Rep. Charles Djou last year. Facing pressure from opponents during the campaign, she announced her intent to move into the First Congressional District if she won the seat.
The Hawaii Republican Party teased that Hanabusa wouldn’t be able to vote for herself on election night, going so far as holding a stunt out in front of its Kapiolani Street headquarters where it offered the Democrat cardboard boxes and volunteer movers. Here’s a video of that event:
Astute observers will note the presence of then-GOP Executive Director Dylan Nonaka, who had previously served as Djou’s campaign chair and is now one of four Republican appointees on the Reapportionment Commission that’s drawing the lines in question. In fact, Nonaka is one of the four members of the technical committee that came up with the draft plans.
Even though he’s since left his position with the Hawaii Republican Party to open his own political consulting firm and has moved out of the First Congressional District back to the Big Island, it’s not unreasonable to think that Nonaka would like to keep sticking it to Hanabusa by keeping Ko Olina out of District 1. One of the other members of the technical committee, Lorrie Lee Stone, is the wife of Ko Olina developer Jeff Stone, a major Hanabusa backer.
The presence of those two might explain the lack of consensus on the congressional districts even though that task was a far easier problem to solve than drawing boundaries for 25 state Senate and 51 state House seats. The full commission will discuss the plans on Friday and come up with one final proposal.
After that, we’ll know if Hanabusa’s Ko Olina house is in or out.