I was surprised that local media didn’t press the governor’s office for the Democratic Party lists Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose from when they reported his appointments of Malama Solomon and Rep. Maile Shimabukuro to replace Sens. Dwight Takamine, who joined his Cabinet, and Colleen Hanabusa, who was elected to the U.S. House.
Under rules passed by the Legislature, the governor is limited to appointing from a list of three candidates provided by the party of the departing lawmaker.
It was impossible to evaluate Abercrombie’s choices without seeing the pools he chose from, so I asked for the information and the governor’s office was reasonably forthcoming in providing it, considering that I made my initial request on Christmas eve.
To cut to the chase, Abercrombie picked Shimabukuro for the seat in District 21, representing Ko Olina and the Waianae Coast, over Cynthia Rezentes, a Neighborhood Board activist and former House candidate, and Hanalei Aipoalani, who previously ran for Congress and the state House.
It was an interesting pick in the context of the turmoil over organizing the House. Shimabukuro was one of the 18 members of the dissident faction led by Reps. Sylvia Luke and Scott Saiki that has prevented Calvin Say’s re-election as speaker.
If they’re so inclined, the Democratic Party and Abercrombie could appoint a replacement who would break the deadlock and give Say the final vote he needs to keep his job and organize the House. Or they could lend support to the dissidents by doing the opposite.
Solomon, an Abercrombie ally during her previous stint in the Senate, was selected for the seat in the 1st District, representing Waimea, the Hamakua Coast and parts of Hilo, over state Rep. Mark Nakashima and Kenneth Goodenow, a lawyer, former Hawaii County Clerk and onetime O‘ahu legislator representing Waimanalo.
According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, other applicants who didn’t make the party’s cut were former mayor and state senator Lorraine Inouye, Hilo councilman Donald Ikeda and attorney Robert Marx, Abercrombie’s Big Island campaign co-chairman.
The governor still has to replace Big Island Sen. Russell Kokubun, who also joined his Cabinet.