Back In The Saddle; Vote Thielen

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - November 01, 2006
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I really thought my early July “Coffee Break” column would be my last until the end of my term as a U.S. senator.

Well, you know what they say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!”

Obviously, the good Lord was chuckling as he implemented his plans for me. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to be on the sidelines now after developing the mindset and the groundwork to make a winning run for the Senate.

Just to bring you up to date: After declaring my candidacy for the U.S. Senate on July 10, I officially filed and set other campaign plans in motion. On July 12, my wife Susan and I were on our way to Africa to fulfill a longstanding commitment to a two-week humanitarian mission in Swaziland and Malawi. Our en-route schedule included a three-day stopover in Washington, D.C., to cultivate the usual fund-raising sources, and a strategy session with my ex-POW friend, Sen. John McCain.


In Africa, after a week in Swaziland and only a day in Malawi (scheduled for a week) we received word that Susan’s mother - 90-years sharp - had suddenly died in Boulder, Colo. In a two-day blur of frantic rescheduling at each airport and interminable airplane hours, we arrived in Boulder and, with Susan’s sister, closed Mom’s apartment, arranged her transport to Texas, U-Hauled heirlooms for 16 hours, and conducted a burial ceremony next to Susan’s father’s grave in San Angelo, Texas - a ceremony attended by dozens of family members and friends.

Early the next morning, Sunday, Aug. 6, in the Hampton Inn, I suffered a heart attack which required immediate triple bypass surgery accomplished by a very capable medical team in San Angelo. But from the moment I saw the angiogram depicting the blocked arteries, I knew the Senate campaign was pau, and my doctors strongly confirmed that the stress of a political campaign in the near term should be avoided. At my direction, the Hawaii Republican Party immediately called a press conference where my son Jerry announced the suspension of my campaign.

After 10 days of convalescence with our Texas family, we returned to Hawaii, thinking that I was now out of the election. We ignored stacks of mail and most phone messages in order to address my recovery and our need for rest. By the time I opened the letter from the director of elections directing me to submit my written notice of withdrawal along with a confirming letter from my physician, obtaining that letter from Texas, then personally delivering the documents to the Office of Elections before the Sept. 1 deadline, the primary ballots had already been printed and included my name.

I was insistent that no one be misled about my intentions to not run in the general, and by posting notices at each polling place the director of elections made that clear.

Like most voters, I was unaware that should I somehow win the primary, despite my withdrawal from the general, state election law allowed the Republican Party to appoint my successor for the general election.


Gov. Lingle and the Republican Party chose to do so, but I was not party to that strategy, and personally I have reservations about the fairness of that law.

Nevertheless, Cynthia Thielen, the party’s choice - and based upon her years of legislative experience - has my utmost support. She is especially bright, articulate and forward-looking, and is dedicated to the “good of the people” instead of always the “good of the party.” Although we agree on many issues, such as the environment, renewable energy, fiscal policy, unqualified success in Iraq and national security, we don’t agree on all things.

But I absolutely trust Cynthia’s instincts. I know she will make me and all the people of Hawaii proud of her representation and statesmanship. Cynthia Thielen has earned and deserves that opportunity.

More soon!

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