We’ve been producing journalism in the public interest for 10 years, with the aim of making Hawaii a better place, and we have no plans to stop any time soon. But we need your help to keep this critical work going strong. For a limited time, donations to Civil Beat will be doubled, thanks to a matching gift from the NewsMatch program!
Civil Beat has raised $64,000 towards our $200,000 goal!
The lack of enthusiasm for the two 2016 presidential frontrunners has some people wishing for a strong third-party campaign nationally.
Here in Hawaii at least, we could have plenty of alternative party candidates for state and local offices representing up to seven political parties could be on the ballot, as well as nonpartisan candidates.
We have several locally established alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats: the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. And this year there are three more to choose from: the Hawaii Independent Party, the Constitution Party of Hawaii and the American Shopping Party.
That’s right — the American Shopping Party.
It’s the brainchild of Raghu Giuffre, who ran as a Republican for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in the 2010 special election (he finished 13th in a field of 14) and in the 2012 primary (he placed third in a field of three).
There’s a news release and a Facebook page that explain what the party stands for, but its first objective is to get 50 million shoppers buying American-made products on the first Saturday of each month.
“If 50 million shoppers show up with half $ trillion (sic) budget, most every store will have something American Made on that day,” his website explained. “It’s really just that simple.”
Giuffre said his party is about “empowering others” to “gain traction,” get attention and make voters aware of his policy ideas. He dislikes the usual horse race between the two major parties.
To qualify for the ballot, a party must gather 707 valid signatures of Hawaii residents. That’s based off a figure of not less than one-tenth of 1 percent of total registered voters in the state as of the last general election — in this case, 2014.
The party then qualifies by petition to be on the ballot for three consecutive general elections — in the case of the Shopping Party, this year’s election, 2018 and 2020. If the party is still fielding candidates by that time, it will remain on the ballot through the 2026 election.
UPDATE: But there is a big catch. A party that has successfully petitioned to qualify like the American Shopping Party and the Constitution Party did for 2016 elections will still need to qualify for the next two general elections (2018 and 2020) by either petition or picking up a certain amount of votes.
If they are successful, starting in 2022 and through 2030 — the next five general elections over a 10-year period — they are deemed qualified and will just need to continue fielding candidates to remain qualified.
Specifically, they need to:
If a party does not meet any of those qualifications, it will be disqualified.
Another newcomer is the Constitution Party of Hawaii, part of a national party whose mission is “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity through the election, at all levels of government, of Constitution Party candidates who will uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.”
Bottom line: “It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions.” To that end, the party’s principles include sanctity of life, “one husband and one wife with their children, as divinely instituted” and “no entanglement in foreign alliances.”
Dave Wethington, the party’s local contact, said he is leading the group’s organization because the previous chairman “did absolutely nothing. They gave him the sheets to get all the names, and he took them home and hid them under his bed or something.”
Wethington said the Constitution Party won’t be running any candidates in 2016, as the focus is on 2018.
The Hawaii Independent Party made the ballot in 2014, when former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann led the ticket with his failed campaign for governor.
An earlier Facebook page, posted in 2014, said, “The Hawaii Independent Party provides a choice for our State’s voters to support new candidates who are not obligated to the ideology of existing parties.”
Party spokesperson Michelle Del Rosario said the Hawaii Independents are in the process of revamping their online presence. She said the party’s board members would meet soon and decide the party’s direction.
Unlike the Constitution and Shopping parties, the Independents have drawn one candidate so far this election, Joy Allison. She’s pulled papers (but not yet filed) to challenge Democrat Brian Schatz in the U.S. Senate contest.
Allison ran as a nonpartisan candidate in 2014 for the same seat, but she only won 388 votes — well below the criteria needed to advance to the general election. That criteria is that the nonpartisan candidate must receive at least 10 percent of the votes cast for that particular office or receive a vote “equal to or greater than the lowest vote received by the partisan candidate who was nominated,” according to the state Office of Elections.
Last month, the Office of Elections held a drawing to decide the order of the political parties that will appear on the primary election ballot: Green Party of Hawaii, Non Partisan (it’s not a party), Democratic Party of Hawaii, Hawaii Independent Party, American Shopping Party, Constitution Party of Hawaii, Hawaii Republican Party and Libertarian Party of Hawaii.
So far, with the June 7 filing deadline nearing, at least two Green candidates have pulled papers: Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian activist known for her work regarding Mauna Kea, is looking at a Big Island House seat currently held by Democrat Richard Onishi; and Nick Nikhilananda, a familiar figure on Maui, has filed to run for Democrat Lynn DeCoite’s Maui-Molokai-Lanai seat.
Meanwhile, Libertarians have either filed for or pulled papers for 17 legislative seats, but some, like Fred Fogel, will have to decide whether he wants to run for state House or state Senate.
Former Honolulu City Council member Tom Berg is looking for a rematch against Democrat Matt LoPresti, the victor in 2014, and Republican Bryan Jeremiah.
Hawaii has seen other third parties over the years. According to Vote Smart, we’ve had a Hawaii Patriot Party, a Reform Party of Hawaii and a Free Energy Party of Hawaii.
Perhaps the most impactful party was the Best Party, founded by former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, who at one time or another also ran as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent Democrat and as a nonpartisan.
In 1994, Fasi and entertainer Danny Kaleikini ran for governor and lieutenant governor on the Best ticket, finishing second to Democrats Ben Cayetano and Mazie Hirono.
The Fasi ticket edged out Republicans Pat Saiki and Fred Hemmings. Bringing up the rear was a Green Party ticket. All told, the Greens, Republicans and Bests took 62 percent of the vote to the Democrats’ 36.
Of note: Races for the Hawaii Legislature, the U.S. Congress and the governor and lieutenant governor are partisan races. Elections for county councils, mayors, prosecutors and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are nonpartisan.
Get engaged! Join in the discussion of candidates and issues in the 2016 elections in our new Facebook Group, Civil Beat Politics. Connect with others and learn how to get involved in community issues that are central to this year’s elections.