A candidate for high office repeatedly makes explicit, offensive remarks about religion and race.
Party officials then scramble to remove the candidate from the ballot but find there is little they can do.
Sounds like Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, right?
In this case, the story involves a Hawaii candidate for Congress named Angela Aulani Kaaihue.
The local Republican has made (and continues to make) derogatory remarks about her Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, other Hawaii leaders and an entire ethnic group, Japanese Americans.
On Friday GOP Chair Fritz Rohlfing urged party members to reject Kaaihue’s “vulgar, racially-bigoted, and religiously-intolerant” views.
And yet, even as the story was being picked up by national media — in part because of Gabbard’s star status — it became clear that Kaaihue’s name likely will appear on the general election ballot as a Republican candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.
Indeed, it seems that the only person who can take Kaaihue’s name off the ballot is Kaaihue herself.
“The notice shall be accompanied by a statement from a licensed physician or physician assistant indicating that such ill health may endanger the candidate’s life,” the law explains.
That’s what happened in 2006, when Republican Jerry Coffee withdrew from his challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. Coffee won the primary but then suffered a heart attack and had surgery.
The GOP named state Rep. Cynthia Thielen to replace Coffee. She lost in a landslide to Akaka.
Local GOP officials did not respond to Civil Beat’s inquiries Monday. Meantime, Kaaihue has said she may drop out of the 2nd Congressional District contest.
But, since awareness of her caustic opinions surfaced, she has only intensified the barrage of offensive attacks, including sending out numerous press releases over the past several days.
Now, Kaaihue said she also plans to run in the special election to complete the two months left of the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s term — as a Democrat, even though state law prohibits one candidate running for more than one office, let alone representing two parties.
That election is set for Nov. 8, the same day as the general election, when 1st Congressional District voters will select a new member of Congress.
Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat, is widely expected to win both the special and general election.
Also in the special election field running as a Democrat is Kaaihue’s boyfriend, Howard Kim, a former Honolulu Police Department officer. Kim has produced campaign materials showing him dressed in police uniform, something HPD policy said is not allowed for current officers but does not apply to ex-employees.
Kim and Kaaihue share similar views that Christians like themselves are fighting “a holy war” to save America, or “God’s country.” They are promoting the fact that they are challenging each other and they say they will debate on Olelo Community Media.
Kaaihue earlier expressed interest in running for several other offices, including Honolulu mayor. (See video above).
The elections office’s most recent list of candidates for the special election does not include Kaaihue. The filing deadline is Thursday afternoon; the deadline to withdraw from the race “for no reason” is 24 hours later while the withdrawal date for health reasons is Sept. 19.
Even if a candidate dies, his or her name can’t be removed from the ballot unless it happens before a certain deadline.
For example, in 2002, U.S Rep. Patsy Mink, who had been hospitalized, won Hawaii’s Democratic primary but died not long after. The Democratic Party of Hawaii was not allowed to replace Mink in the general election, which the congresswoman won posthumously.
Two special elections were later held to complete Mink’s existing term and to fill a new two-year term.