Hawaii voters will be asked who should serve out the remainder of the late Mark Takai’s term in Washington — possibly on the same day they decide who should represent the 1st Congressional District in the next term starting in January.

A special winner-take-all election will most likely be held in conjunction with the Nov. 8 general election, according to the state Office of Elections.

But the winner of that special election will only serve for two months — from Nov. 8 until the current session of Congress wraps up on Jan. 3, 2017.

The Aug. 13 primary will go on as scheduled, as will the general election.

Takai died Wednesday in Honolulu at the age of 49.

US Capitol building west side summer. 12 june 2016
The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

State law requires that, when a U.S. House vacancy occurs, the chief elections officer must call for a special election no later than 60 days before the next general election.

After consultation with the state attorney general’s office on Wednesday, the Office of Elections said it was leaning toward holding the special election the same day as the general election. It was decided that it was too soon to hold the special election on the same day as the Aug. 13 primary.

The candidate filing process for the special election will likely open shortly after the primary, but a time frame has not yet been announced.

That means it’s conceivable that the winners of the primary could also file to run in the special election thus putting their names on the ballot twice in November. Primary losers could re-file as well.

The winner of the special election would take office immediately and serve until early January. Then the winner of the general election would take over. The same person could actually win both the special and the general elections.

Past Special Elections

The last member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation to die in office was Sen. Dan Inouye in December 2012.

Following Hawaii law, Gov. Neil Abercrombie selected his lieutenant governor, Brian Schatz, to succeed Inouye. Schatz was one of three candidates picked by the Democratic Party of Hawaii for the governor’s consideration.

In 2014, Schatz won re-election to serve the last two years of Inouye’s six-year term. He is running again this year for a full term.

US Capitol House chambers Congress1. 6 june 2016
The U.S. House chamber inside the Capitol. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The last special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat was in May 2010, to replace Abercrombie, who resigned from his 1st Congressional District seat to run for governor.

Republican Charles Djou prevailed in a large field but was defeated that November by Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, who then served a full two-year term. Hanabusa is now running to win her former seat back.

In 2002, Rep. Patsy Mink died shortly after the primary. She represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers the neighbor islands and the area outside of urban Oahu.

It was too late to remove Mink’s name from the general election ballot and she was posthumously re-elected to Congress.

A special election was won by Ed Case in late November to fill the remainder of Mink’s two-year term. Case also won a second special election in early 2003 to serve a full term.

About the Author