Before Gov. Neil Abercrombie selects a successor for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s State Central Committee will be the primary vetting chamber.

The central committee, which is made up of 82 Democrats, is not often in the news. It serves essentially as a board of directors of the party. Twelve members of the SCC also comprise an executive committee — top officers empowered to make decisions when there is not sufficient time for SCC members to meet.

The SCC’s duties include matters such as deciding whether a party member wanting to run for office meets party requirements.

The committee made headlines this spring when it rejected Laura Thielen‘s approval to run for the state Senate; Thielen ran and won anyway, and the party later decided not to pursue legal action. The SCC was ridiculed by some Democrats for rejecting Thielen but praised by others for adhering to party rules.

With the death of Inouye, the partisan group is now charged with a far more significant decision: selecting three names of possible replacements to put on the governor’s desk.

This is a big decision for the state, and one that will likely reverberate through the Hawaiian isles for decades.

In light of this, Civil Beat thought it was appropriate to let our readers know who’s putting together the succession pool for Abercrombie.

The deadline for applications was 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, and as of Sunday there were about a dozen people who had applied. It wasn’t clear whether the names of applicants would be publicly released.

As of midday Monday, the names of applicants include U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, state Sens. Will Espero and Donna Mercado Kim, Department of Land and Natural Resources Deputy Director Esther Kiaaina and Blake Oshiro, Abercrombie’s deputy chief of staff.

Congresswoman-elect Tulsi Gabbard also threw her name into the fray Monday. Gabbard was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

There’s also Tony Gill, son of the late Tom Gill, a former congressman and lieutenant governor, and an SCC and executive committee member who has submitted an application to become senator.

While he said he’s still expecting to vote, Gill has recused himself from discussions involving the voting procedure.

The SCC meets Wednesday at party headquarters at Ward Warehouse. Some members, especially on the neighbor islands, may not be able to attend because of holiday travel challenges. Democrats say they will try to arrange for phone contact with those members.

The eligible candidates will be allowed to make a 2-minute presentation to the SCC. There will be no Q&A. The SCC will then go in to executive session.

A decision is expected Wednesday, and the shortlist will be sent immediately to Abercrombie, who has said he will act quickly. In theory, the new senator-select could be on the red-eye to D.C. that very night.

Here is the current SCC roster, dated Oct. 13, 2012, which includes eight vacancies:

The State Central Committee

Name Office Held Island Executive Committee
Dante Carpenter State Chair Oahu Member
Russell Okata National Committeeman Oahu Member
Jadine Nielsen National Committeewoman Oahu Member
Steven Pavao County Chair Hawaii Member
Todd Craine County Chair Maui Member
Steven Nishimura County Chair Kauai Member
Tony Gill County Chair Oahu Member
Gay M. Okada County Representative Hawaii
Danny Robinson County Representative Hawaii
Dorothy “Dottie” Binder County Representative Maui Vice Chair
Michael S. Howden County Representative Maui
Clyde Kodani County Representative Kauai
Bernadette “Bernie” Sakoda County Representative Kauai
Lynne Matusow County Representative Oahu Secretary
Charles “Chuck” Prentiss County Representative Oahu
Blaise DeLima 1st Senatorial District Hawaii
Brian DeLima 1st Senatorial District Hawaii
VACANT 2nd Senatorial District Hawaii
VACANT 2nd Senatorial District Hawaii
Sally Ann Jones Waitt 3rd Senatorial District Hawaii
John Buckstead 3rd Senatorial District Hawaii
Christy Ann Makanalani Kajiwara-Gusman 4th Senatorial District Maui
Justin Hughey 4th Senatorial District Maui
Judith Michaels 5th Senatorial District Maui
Douglas McBride 5th Senatorial District Maui
Helen Nielsen 6th Senatorial District Maui
Leonard Habersham 6th Senatorial District Maui
Sandra E. Wright 7th Senatorial District Kauai
Carl Wright 7th Senatorial District Kauai
Frances K. Kagawa 8th Senatorial District Oahu
Bart Dame 8th Senatorial District Oahu
Faye Kennedy 9th Senatorial District Oahu
Joshua “Josh” Frost 9th Senatorial District Oahu Assistant Secretary
Michele Matsuo 10th Senatorial District Oahu
Guy Archer 10th Senatorial District Oahu Assistant Treasurer
Stephanie Fitzpatrick 11th Senatorial District Oahu
James Shon 11th Senatorial District Oahu
Jo-Ann Adams 12th Senatorial District Oahu
Jesse Souki 12th Senatorial District Oahu
Denise Chillingworth 13th Senatorial District Oahu
Ed Hasegawa 13th Senatorial District Oahu
Amefil “Amy” Agbayani 14th Senatorial District Oahu
VACANT 14th Senatorial District Oahu
Yuriko “Jane” Sugimura 15th Senatorial District Oahu Treasurer
Ryan Toyomura 15th Senatorial District Oahu
Aileen Wada 16th Senatorial District Oahu
Arnold Wong 16th Senatorial District Oahu
Marion Poirier 17th Senatorial District Oahu
Edmund Aczon 17th Senatorial District Oahu
VACANT 18th Senatorial District Oahu
Ilalo Parayno 18th Senatorial District Oahu
Miche’le Golojuch 19th Sentorial District Oahu
Michael Golojuch Sr. 19th Senatorial District Oahu
Mun-Won Chang 20th Senatorial District Oahu
Chris Lewis 20th Senatorial District Oahu
Polly Grace 21st Senatorial District Oahu
Larry Moore 21st Senatorial District Oahu
Laura Figueira 22nd Senatorial District Oahu
Larry Meacham 22nd Senatorial District Oahu
Harriet Kam 23rd Senatorial District Oahu
Bill South 23rd Senatorial District Oahu
Shannon Wood 24th Senatorial District Oahu
Jon Chinen 24th Senatorial District Oahu
Pamela DaGrossa 25th Senatorial District Oahu
Albert Lewis 25th Senatorial District Oahu
Brickwood Galuteria Senate Representative Oahu
Dawnette “Dee” Morikawa House Representative Kauai
Tristen Aczon Young Democrats Representative Oahu
Francis Choe Young Democrats Representative Oahu
Lynn M. Sager Environmental Representative Oahu
Michael J. DeWeert Environmental Representative Oahu
Eileen F. McKee GLBT Representative Maui
Michael Golojuch Jr. GLBT Representative Oahu
Joy Kobashigawa Lewis Labor Representative Oahu
Doug Pyle Labor Representative Oahu
Mildred “Millie” Saito Kupuna Representative Oahu
VACANT Kupuna Representative Oahu
VACANT Hawaiian Affairs Caucus Oahu
VACANT Hawaiian Affairs Caucus Oahu
Ann Sybl Freed Women’s Caucus Oahu
John Bickel Women’s Caucus Oahu
VACANT Immediate Past State Chairperson

Source: Democratic Party of Hawaii

Chad Blair contributed to this story.

About the Author