The Democratic Party of Hawaii’s State Convention opens on Friday at the Sheraton Waikiki.
All indications point to an interesting time to be had by all.
First there was the new “pay to play” rule requiring candidates to pay $500 per minute to speak during the convention. Putting a price on speeches, even by top of the ticket players, is a departure from past practice, according to a story this week in Civil Beat.
Hawaii Reporter highlighted one resolution passed by the Oahu County Convention earlier this month and submitted to the state convention, which asks members of the Congressional delegation, the governor, and party officials to remain neutral in the primary, and to refrain from campaigning for (or against?) competing Democrats. It is seen as push-back against efforts by Sen. Inouye and others who have been backing their favored candidates in 2nd Congressional District and the Senate race.
There are also several amendments to the party constitution proposed by the Oahu County Convention, several of which seem to be aimed at blocking a repeat of the controversy over the candidacy of Laura Thielen.
Thielen, who headed the Office of State Planning and, later, the Department of Land and Natural Resources during the administration of Gov. Linda Lingle, joined the Democratic Party earlier this year and last week filed to run for the 25th District Senate seat now held by Pohai Ryan. The same Oahu County party apparatus unsuccessfully sought to block her entry into the race, as has the party’s state central committee.
The proposed amendments would require anyone wishing to seek election as a Democrat to be a party member “in good standing” for 12 months, double the current 6-month requirement. It would eliminate a procedure that currently allows new party members to seek exemptions from the “good standing” requirement. and would “mandate automatic expulsion from the Party, effective with the 2014 election, for filing as a candidate of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i if not a member in good standing.”
The party can already feel like an insiders club that is difficult to penetrate by anyone newly interested in its internal workings. The proposed amendments to the constitution will just create higher barriers to entry, further limiting participation by anyone who hasn’t been thoroughly vetted and approved by the party leadership prior to seeking office under the party’s banner.
I’m not a party insider, and have never been interested in entering there, so the whole who-is-doing-what-to-whom lineup is somewhat of a confusing mystery. Perhaps others more deeply involved in these debates can provide a bit of background as to the different party factions, along with the key players and perspectives in those factions.