Who didn’t make Abercrombie’s senatorial cut?

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.

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12 Comments on “Who didn’t make Abercrombie’s senatorial cut?”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    One of the major reasons Cynthia made the cut was that she worked in Colleen’s office for several years and understood what happens on both sides of the table. I’ve been working with – and sometimes in opposition – with her on environmental & land use issues for nearly a decade now.

    I met Maile during her first campaign back in 2002. Frankly, I thought she’d be much further along in her political career by now given her intelleectual capabilities as well as her passion for social justice.

    I first met Hanalei when he ran for the US House in 2006. Ever since, I’ve wondered why I’ve not heard more about him except when he’s running for office.

    As for the folks considered for Dwight’s seat – I really would miss Mark in the House, but he’ll still be around for another two years. I keep crossing my fingers that he’ll be named Chair of Higher Education, but that won’t happen if Say gets another two years in as Speaker.

  2. charles Says:

    Shimabukuro’s replacement probably won’t make a difference in the leadership struggle since the Party has 30 days to come up with a list and the governor has another 30 days to appoint which would be well into the upcoming session. Of course, everyone could expedite the appointment but it’s safe to say they know the impact of appointing someone sooner rather than later.

    As far as Kokubun’s appointment, Herkes would love to get it and he may but, again, this would probably be after session starts since Kokubun’s seat will open up on Jan. 1.

    I hope the House is organized prior to opening day.

  3. Michael Says:

    It seems all Islands has a representative in Governor Abercrombies cabinet. It it is good
    that all Islands share in his decision making.
    Maybe I am missing an Island but I am sure there is a voice being heard. I just hope that all appointed meet Our expectations and not short of any. All the more and no less.

  4. Kolea Says:

    Dave,

    I am glad you asked for, and received, the list of names. It clearly is a document subject to the Sunshine Laws. Before the law was changed to include the local Party officers in nominating candidates, the power belonged solely to the Governor. Now that the process has become more democratic, it is fitting that it should also be subject to more scrutiny.

    So long as the Governor had complete authority, it seemed to have been a “royal prerogative,” not subject to scrutiny or requests for transparency.

    What names did Lingle consider in replacing Ken Hiraki, Galen Fox and Kalani English? Are we curious? Would a request for the info have been granted? Under the new law, Lingle appointed a replacement to Bob Nakasone, Gary Hooser and Bobby Bunda. Why did she pick the people she did and who did she reject?

    Why did no reporter ask? And would the request have been granted as quickly as yours was in the Hanabusa replacement?

    Thanks for helping establish this precedent so early in the new administration.

  5. David Shapiro Says:

    Kolea, I believe Lingle routinely released the three names and in at least some cases allowed for public comment before making her appointment.

  6. Kolea Says:

    Thanks< Dave. That had totally escaped my notice. It would be nice if Abercrombie were to follow her example on this. The more transparency, the better.

  7. Declaration of Independence Says:

    You requested the names, but don’t seem to have entered into any evaluation on the pros and cons of the selection. I guess you need to know the players if you are going to write anything meaningful about them.

  8. charles Says:

    I don’t recall but did Lingle ask for public comments before appointing Bev Harbin?

  9. Michael Says:

    lingle asked the public to vote for something she could not decide for herself in her office she could not do alone. Yet few months prior she brags on how she does thing no other person can do.
    Her Veto of HB444 led to her demice of which a man Governor Abercrombie has to deal with the public in chase.

    Of little importance who is who except when one went to Harvard they think they are better than the rest. I don’t think they went to Harvard but you know the rest.

  10. KaohiWaianae Says:

    When I read Maile over Cynthia–amen. I’ve been in a lot of meetings on the Waianae Coast and the reason why I am celebrating because democracy shuts done with Cynthia! Maile keeps the doors open even though we both disagree on issues. I say so what and say next. With Cynthia the issues rolls out onto the streets, in the air, and on our mounatian tops with only one voice–hers! That’s not the real problem, it’s having to face enforcements that scares the crap out of me. Yup, you read it right ‘crap’–people make do do in their pants in Waianae when looking down a barrel of a gun. Try it sometimes, if you make through, one can laugh–and just say next. Vocies get heard with Maile, and I will thank her for that–but like I say; we disagree. It’s not okay people for our children on the Waiane Coast to engage with the law at the other end of a gun.

  11. Kolea Says:

    Charles,

    You ask a good question about Harbin. I know Lingle DID request input in early 2005 when she had to appoint to fill the vacancy left by Sol Kahoohalhalo going to KIRC. (She ended up appointing Mele Carroll).

    Harbin was appointed in September 2005. It appears Lingle did NOT request public input on the Harbin appointment. I suspect it may have been because Harbin appeared to be such a Godsend to Lingle. A Republican who switched parties in order to qualify for the appointment and at odds with the Democrats. Boy, did Lingle get burned for jumping at Harbin without taking a closer look.

    Ya gotta give “due diligence” its due.

  12. Michael Says:

    “Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.”
    The Canterville Ghost (1887)

    Next.


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