Just two years ago Angela Aulani Kaaihue managed to upset both Hawaii Democrats and Republicans.

That’s because Kaaihue, a first-time candidate, somehow qualified to run for the state’s 1st Congressional District seat as a Democrat and the 2nd Congressional District seat as a Republican — at the same time.

The GOP strongly disavowed her candidacy while the Dems sued to get her off the ballot. It did not work.

Kaaihue also upset a lot of people during the campaign with her bigoted views toward Japanese-Americans, Hindus, Buddhists and other groups. Kaaihue’s campaign literature also included the claim, “I’m healthy and cancer-free!”

A screen shot taken June 15 from Angela Kaaihue’s campaign website for Hawaii governor. She is shown campaigning for Congress in 2016.

www.hawaiigovernor.com

Kaaiuhe’s 2016 opponents, you may recall, included Colleen Hanabusa (Japanese-American and Buddhist) and Tulsi Gabbard (Hindu). Hanabusa was running to reclaim her former U.S. House seat after U.S. Rep. Mark Takai (Japanese-American) died of cancer in July of that year.

In spite of her harsh views, Kaaihue handily defeated another Republican in the CD2 primary and went on to face Gabbard, the incumbent, in the general.

Gabbard crushed her, yet Kaaihue garnered nearly 40,000 votes. Kaaihue was also creamed in the CD1 special election (held at the same time as the general election) by Hanabusa but still received about 5,900 votes.

Now, Kaaihue’s running for office again, although she has lowered her sights to state House District 43, which includes Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Ko Olina, Nanakuli and Maili. That’s the seat being vacated by Rep. Andria Tupola, the House minority leader who is a candidate in the GOP primary for governor.

Michael Jesus Juarez’s campaign photograph. He and Angela Kaaihue are running for the same seat in the House of Representatives.

Courtesy

Sailau (Sai) Vaana Timoteo, who works for Tupola at the state Capitol, hopes to win her boss’ seat and keep it in GOP hands. Stacelynn Kehaulani Eli is on the Democratic ballot for District 43.

Kaaihue? She’s running as a nonpartisan candidate.

But here’s where it gets weird and makes one think back to the kooky 2016 races. Kaaihue is helping a second Democrat in the 2018 same race, Michael Jesus Juarez.

“I’d rather go up against someone I know Michael Jesus Juarez, a Democratic, in the General Election,” Kaaihue said via email Sunday (the typos and punctuation are hers). “So this upcoming primary, I’m rooting for him, even as a Non-Partisan, I want to see Michael Jesus Juarez win the primaries. Don’t you just love his name, Jesus? I swear, he looks like Jesus, he lives a simple life, he believes in GOD, and he has a good heart.”

Said Juarez, also via email Sunday, “I’m running for office to make a difference, I know I can make a change.” 

To be clear, I was never able to speak to Juarez and can’t be certain if he or someone else is sending me the emails.

‘Me And Angela’

There’s more weirdness, too.

Juarez and Kaaihue listed the same contact phone number on the state’s 2018 ballot report. I called it Friday and asked to speak with Juarez. The male voice on the other end said I could leave a message for him. I also asked if I could leave a message for Kaaihue. Yes, I could.

I left messages. No one called back.

So, I checked with the state Office of Elections. They emailed me the two candidates’ nomination paperwork, which contains the lists of registered voters in District 43 who nominated Kaaihue and Juarez.

Oddly, both candidates said their official residences are on the same street — Helelua Street in Waianae. But both candidates listed mailing addresses well outside District 43 — Aiea for Kaaihue (where she says she used to live), and Ward Avenue for Juarez.

Even odder, Kaaihue and Juarez also listed more than a dozen of the same people who officially nominated them for District 43. It includes Kaaihue and Juarez, who in addition to nominating themselves nominated each other.

Problem is, registered voters can’t nominate more than one person for the same contest. The Elections Office ended up rejecting the duplicate signatures as well as those whose addresses did not match records.

Still, Kaaihue and Juarez each managed to collect enough certified signatures to qualify for the ballot. It only takes 15.

Juarez denied that he and Kaaihue are working together on their campaigns.

“Coordinating a campaign, you mean, like how Hanabusa and Ige are?” he wrote, referring to the Democratic candidates for governor. “Isn’t it ironic to see Ige and Hanabusa’s signs banners up at the same time.”

He added, “As for having the same telephone number as Angela, I have no idea how that happened.”

I also pointed out that recent press releases from both candidates appeared to have identical formats, such as being written entirely in upper case.

“Press releases, perhaps our campaign managers are good friends,” he said.

What about the duplicate signatures?

“Me and Angela happened to be at McDonald’s at the same time seeking signatures,” Juarez explained. “Also, we live in the same community, so obviously were going to have similar signatures.”

Betting On Vegas

I asked some of the same questions of Kaaihue. Here is an excerpt from her emailed answers:

I’ve known Michael for about 7 years now. He’s a good guy, someone that I can trust as a friend, someone that won’t steal from us. And that’s important, people come and go in our lives, but this guy is loyal, he’s honest, and he doesn’t steal. So we help each other out, he’s been a witness for us, he’s caught people criminally trespassers in the act before. He talks good.

So we had a bet, whoever got more votes has to buy the winning party a round trip ticket to Vegas. As for the press releases, well, didn’t know it wasn’t suppose to be in upper case letters, so thanks for the advice. Next time, we wont use all upper case.

Kaaihue had a lot more to say in her email, including clarification of her views on Japanese.

“I think the Japanese people know that I don’t hate all Japanese people, the way the press made it appear,” she said in part.

Maybe.

But in December 2016 Kaaihue was kicked out of a Honolulu City Council meeting after she protested the renaming of an aquatic center in honor of Takai because of Takai’s Japanese ancestry. Kaaihue recommended it be renamed instead to honor then President-elect Donald Trump.

You can read more about Kaaihue and her platform on her campaign website. She wants to solve homelessness and build rail, for example. She also has some awful things to say about Hawaii’s top leaders, as seen in this screen shot from her website:

A screen shot taken June 15 from Angela Kaaihue’s campaign website.

www.hawaiigovernor.com

And you can read more about Juarez in his candidate Q&A for Civil Beat, which will be published shortly. Or check out his blog, although there is little there.

Asked in his Q&A about the most pressing issues facing his district and what he would do about it, he identified traffic, heath care, housing and education. Then he added this:

So unless I AM ELECTED, I AM NO WAY AT LIBERTY TO GIVE AWAY MY BRILLIANT IDEAS, SMARTNESS, AND ANSWERS. I don’t like when people steal my solutions to these issues and then take credit for it. Thank you for your understanding.

Juarez says he is also employed as a carpenter.

One other thing: In a press release June 13 (in all uppercase), Juarez said he had been hospitalized in intensive care at Queen’s Medical Center suffering from a head injury. He said he was attacked in Chinatown and found unconscious.

A press release the next day said “JESUS” was to be released. “PLEASE SEND FLOWERS,” it read.

Asked by me how he is doing, Juarez said, “Been in ICU for about 2 weeks, I just got out, and I suffered a head concussion. I probably was attacked by a Democratic hater.”

Juarez joined the Democratic Party of Hawaii less than three months ago.

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