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State roundup for June 19

Suit claims Hawaii primary is unconstitutional

HONOLULU (AP) — In a federal lawsuit, the Democratic Party of Hawaii claims the state’s primary election law is unconstitutional.

Hawaii’s primary system that allows every registered voter to participate in the party’s nomination process is tantamount to forced political association, in violation of the First Amendment, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.

The party prefers a primary that allows distinguishing voters by political orientation. The law prevents the party “from exerting any control over who may participate in the nomination of its candidates,” the lawsuit states, resulting in the “active, earnest and faithful” party members being “substantially outnumbered in their own nomination process, by persons unknown to (the party).”

The lawsuit would help ensure Democrats are elected at the primary stage by fellow Democrats, said Dante Carpenter, party chairman.

“I do not support the lawsuit,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement. “The Democratic Party has always been inclusive, drawing strength from bringing together a diversity of people and perspectives.”

A scheduling conference on the lawsuit is set for Sept. 16.

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago is named as the defendant. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Hawaii had a closed system between 1968 and 1978. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii is one of 11 states with open systems.

Some in the party are concerned that the nominating process has become diluted while many elected Democrats fear voters won’t participate if they have to become party members or publicly declare party affiliation.

RLJ Lodging Trust acquires Waikiki hotel

HONOLULU (AP) — A major Honolulu hotel has been sold.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser ( reports Maryland-based RLJ Lodging Trust has acquired the long-term leasehold interest in the 399-room Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach hotel for $75.3 million.

RLJ Lodging Trust says in an announcement that the deal was made using cash on its balance sheet.

The company says it has 149 properties including 148 hotels with more than 22,300 rooms in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Hawaii rep to be promoted in Army National Guard

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii state Rep. Mark Takai is getting a promotion in the Hawaii Army National Guard.

The state lawmaker is expected to be promoted during a ceremony on Tuesday at the Hawaii Capitol.

Officials say Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka will preside over the ceremony.

Takai served a seven-month deployment in Kuwait in 2009 and also served active duty as a deputy state surgeon in 2005.

He is president of the Hawaii National Guard Association.


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