- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii Independent Party has filed enough signatures of registered voters with the state Office of Elections to satisfy the requirements for a new party.

The party turned in the signatures less than 10 minutes before closing time on Thursday, KHON (https://bit.ly/1gPcJy7 ) reported.

The party is led by former Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Maui real estate agent Michelle del Rosario.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who lost to Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary in 2010, has said that he would seriously consider running for governor as an independent if the new party is certified.

Del Rosario told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/OjQ3Mz ) the party is an option for independent candidates to pool resources and run together.

“I think there’s a lot of people who no longer vote for a party. They really vote on an issue or a candidate,” she said.

The party estimates it collected about 2,000 signatures, Hawaii News Now (https://bit.ly/1jVxgnQ ) reported. They needed at least 706 signatures from active registered voters - or one-tenth of one percent of the number of statewide registered voters in the 2012 General Election.

State Sen. David Ige, who is running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, said the development doesn’t change his strategy.

“We have a strategy to win the Democratic Primary, and that is our primary focus,” said Ige. “We’re confident that we will win the primary and move on to the general.”

Former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who has said he will run in the Republican primary, said, “Well, I’m not surprised. Mufi has run in several races for different offices, so this doesn’t come as a surprise.”

“It’s going to be a dog fight, no question about it,” he said.

The governor’s team indicated it’s confident.

“We believe that Gov. Abercrombie’s achievements will win the support of voters in both the primary and general elections,” said Bill Kaneko, Abercrombie’s campaign manager.

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