Democrat Mufi Hannemann has a big decision to make. He’s being courted by the Hawaii Independent Party to switch parties and run for governor. Hannemann and leaders of the newly formed party held their first face-to-face meeting on Maui Friday.
Hannemann still hasn’t made up his mind whether or not to take the offer, but the former mayor of Honolulu is clear about what he thinks of the Hawaii Democratic Party.
“I’ve been shunted and pushed aside for many years because I don’t adhere to the party platform,” Hannemann told KHON2 exclusively. “I’ve faced major repercussions, so I think it’s no secret that I’ve not been treated well.
“I’m an independent, I’m a moderate, I’m a centrist, so I’m looking to move forward and not look behind me,” he added. “I want to make sure that this is an opportunity not only for myself, but for others.”
The leaders of the Hawaii Independent Party come from both sides of the aisle. Former Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares was raised in a Republican household while realtor Michelle Del Rosario is a former Democratic party official.
“To create a party that is not a mirror of an existing one, that grows from the grass roots,” Tavares said. “This is about having another choice. It’s about having an option for people.”
“We intend to be viable and to field a slate of candidates that will be competitive,” said Del Rosario.
The last time an independent party had a major impact in the race for Governor and Lt. Governor was back in 1994, when then Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi and the Ambassador of Aloha, Danny Kaleikini formed the Best Party. That year, they came in second, the Demcrats came in first, and the Republicans, third.
The Hawaii Independent Party’s initial formation meeting will begin in late March with the first meeting likely to be held on Oahu.
KHON2 reached out to Democratic party chair Dante Carpenter for comment. He has not yet responded.
The official deadline for candidates to file is June 3, but the clock is ticking. If Hannemann intends to mount a run for governor, he’ll need to decide much sooner.
Related Story: Hannemann could run for governor under new party