Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit seeking to remove Angela Aulani Kaaihue’s name from the special election ballot for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.
The Democratic Party of Hawaii last month filed its objection to Kaaihue running as a Democrat in the special election to fill out the brief remainder of the term of the late Congressman Mark Takai, who died in July.
The party’s argument is that Kaaihue is not a party member. She is also running as a Republican in the 2nd Congressional District against Democrat incumbent Tulsi Gabbard on the same ballot.
Tony Gill, an attorney for the Democratic Party, said Sakamoto’s ruling was delivered orally from the bench.
He explained that the judge said the party had filed “a couple of days late, and that the objection letter — which we did file within the time limit — he said it did not sufficiently constitute a complaint.”
Gill concluded, “It’s an arguable point.”
Sakamoto’s ruling will later be transcribed into writing.
“The party must decide where to go from there,” said Gill.
It appears that the party will not give up on challenging Kaaihue’s candidacy.
Party Chair Tim Vandeveer said Democrats “will continue to pursue whatever options are available to remove her from the ballot and to have the court formally recognize that she is not a Democrat.”
Vandeveer said the party will also seek clarification on the responsibilities of the state Office of Elections. Kaaihue has said that she received permission from election officials to run as a Democrat for one office and a Republican for another.
“I think it’s their responsibility to make note of these things and to stop them from occurring,” Vandeveer said of the elections office.
Election officials did not immediately return a call late Tuesday.
GOP Upset, Too
Kaaihue has upset many with her harsh views of Japanese-Americans, Hindus, Buddhists and other groups. Hanabusa, a former congresswoman, is Buddhist and Gabbard is Hindu.
Fritz Rohlfing, chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, has strongly denounced Kaaihue’s candidacy, too, and lamented that the party waited too long to file its own challenge to remove her from the ballot for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
In a response to the Democratic Party’s complaint filed by Kaaihue, she took issue with both parties, Gabbard and the state of Hawaii.
Kaaihue claims in her counter-complaint that she has been subject to slander, defamation, fraud, malice and discrimination because she is a Christian.
Of Gabbard specifically, Kaaihue’s counter-lawsuit alleges that the congresswoman is not an American and that it is unconstitutional and “a burden on Christians” that she serves in elected office.
Kaaihue claims she has received death threats and has become “the mockery of ill-jokes, and redundancy. Her campaign has been dragged into the mud…”
Vandeveer said he will continue to point out “how inappropriate and unacceptable her language is in our politics.”