Sailau Timoteo, a Republican candidate for House District 43, is ineligible to run because she is a citizen of American Samoa.
American Samoans are considered U.S. nationals and can’t vote, even though the Honolulu Elections Division confirmed Wednesday that Timoteo is registered to vote in Hawaii.
Timoteo was the only Republican candidate running to represent the district that runs from Maili to Ewa Villages. Rep. Andria Tupola, who vacated the seat to run for governor, endorsed her candidacy.
When she was contacted by Civil Beat, Timoteo deferred to a written statement submitted jointly with Republican Party Chair Shirlene Ostrov.
In the statement, Timoteo said she grew up in Waianae and pays taxes.
“I learned about our freedoms and always thought I had the same right to participate in our democracy,” Timoteo said. “I never knew my ethnicity as an American from American Samoa gave me second-class status.”
Ostrov said Timoteo was being “deprived of her basic democratic rights because of discriminatory, colonial-era laws.”
The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office sent Timoteo a letter July 23, notifying her that citizens of American Samoa cannot run for state office and that her eligibility was under review.
The AG’s office confirmed Tuesday that it had been in contact with Timoteo, but would not comment further.
A Honolulu Elections Division official said it was cooperating with state officials and the AG’s office, but would not comment further.
Stacelynn Kehaulani Eli and Michael Jesus Juarez are competing in the district’s Democratic primary Aug. 11.
Angela Kaaihue, a candidate who made headlines for her derogatory remarks about people of Japanese ancestry and non-Christian faiths, is a nonpartisan candidate in the race. She would need to secure 10 percent of all votes in the race to advance to the general election, or as many votes as her winning democratic competitor.
Read the AG letter here:
Read the joint statement issued by Timoteo and the Republican Party here:
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