Hopefuls for state Senate seat up to seven

A seventh Democrat has surfaced as an applicant for the 5th Senate District seat vacated by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.

Nicanor E. Casumpang Jr.’s application for the state Senate seat was inadvertently directed into a spam filter of email that had been receiving applications electronically, the Maui Democratic Party announced Friday afternoon.

“I apologize to Mr. Casumpang for this error in the way we received our applications,” said Justin Hughey, chairman of the Senate District 5 Ad-hoc Nominating Committee. “The nominating committee is trying our best to conduct a fair and open process and unfortunately this occurred due to an oversight.”

The nominating committee will meet today to hear presentations of up to 10 minutes from each of the applicants. Then, committee members may vote for as many as three candidates but not more than once for the same person.

The meeting is closed to the public.

More than 30 Democrats are eligible to attend the meeting, and those who cannot attend may vote by proxy.

The committee will forward the names of the three top vote-getters to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The names will not be disclosed today by party officials, said Troy Hashimoto, corresponding secretary for the Maui Democratic Party.

The seven candidates are:

* Casumpang, a former International Longshore and Warehouse Union business agent, a member of the Maui Planning Commission, a president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Maui and an unsuccessful candidate for the Maui County Council’s Kahului residency seat in 2002.

* Loretta Giannotti, a businesswoman and lead organizer for Maui, Molokai and Kauai for the 2012 Obama for America campaign.

* Robert George Hill III, a retired Maui Police Department lieutenant and executive director of the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center.

* Natalie A. “Tasha” Kama, pastor, president and administrator for Christian Ministry Church, who has run for political office in the past.

* Gilbert Samuel Coloma Keith-Agaran, current representative for state House District 9, which includes Kahului, Wailuku, Puunene, Spreckelsville and Paia.

* Clifford R. Libed, who spent 14 years with the Hawaii Housing and Community Development Corp. and is a former member of the Maui Redevelopment Agency.

* Mary D. Wagner, business continuity plan manager for Maui County.

Applicants had until 5 p.m. Thursday to submit their names for consideration by the party’s nominating committee. They needed to be in “good standing” and live in Tsutsui’s state Senate District 5, which includes Wailuku, Waihee and Kahului.

A total of nine people submitted their names to be considered. However, two individuals did not meet the requirements, party officials said.

Last week, Tsutsui accepted the post of lieutenant governor after former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz accepted Abercrombie’s appointment to fill the seat left open by the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who died Dec. 17 at 88 years old.

Abercrombie has 60 calendar days following the first day of the vacancy to make an appointment to the state Senate seat.