[NOTE: I updated the following post to include Woodson’s response to The Maui News story, which arrived on the afternoon of May 12]
Pro tip: If you send out a press release announcing that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has endorsed you for reelection, make sure said Speaker has actually endorsed you.
Rookie Rep. Justin Woodson, D–Kahului, learned this Political Campaign 101 lesson the hard way this weekend. On Friday, May 9, his campaign chairwoman Thelma Pascua Suyat sent out a press release titled “House Speaker Souki Endorses Justin Woodson.” Seemed definite enough. The release even included a quote from Speaker Joe Souki, D–Wailuku, himself, though on closer inspection you’ll notice he doesn’t actually use the E Word:
“Representative Woodson has been a valuable asset to the Maui delegation in the State House and served as an important part of our team over the past two years,” Souki is quoted as saying in the news release.
Maui News City Editor Brian Perry wrote a story on the alleged endorsement in that paper’s May 11 edition, which seems to have gotten Souki’s attention because today the News has a new unbylined story titled “Souki is pleased with Woodson’s work, but he did not endorse him.”
According to todays’ Maui News story, Souki was “distressed” and “very disappointed” with Woodson for announcing an endorsement that Souki says was never made.
“I normally do not endorse Democrats in the primary,” Souki is quoted as saying in The Maui News.
On the afternoon of May 12, Woodson emailed a response to the incident. “I highly respect Speaker Souki and will never attempt to tarnish our good working relationship by falsely claiming endorsements,” he said. “It was an honest and unfortunate miscommunication between myself and Speaker Souki, and I am taking responsibility.”
For those who can’t tell, Woodson has never run for elected office before. Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed him to the seat representing Kahului in the big legislative shake-up following the December 2012 death of U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye.
Perhaps smelling more than a healthy portion of blood in the political water, former Maui County Mayor James “Kimo” Apana announced months ago that he would run against Woodson in the Aug. 9 primary election.
Photo: Justin Woodson’s flickr page