Hawaii attorney general Douglas Chin says he is running for Congress – while still remaining attorney general.
Governor Ige says that's fine with him. He says Chin is leading many state initiatives and will be able to avoid violating the many campaign regulations and ethics rules that he must now navigate for at least the next eight month.
But staying technically within the law is not the issue.
It will be a great temptation for Chin to use his office to sell his candidacy. He's already been the most media-active attorney general in state history – issuing many press releases over lawsuits he filed against the Trump Administration on behalf of Hawaii citizens.
There is nothing new about taking advantage of public office for political reasons - mayors and governors routinely keep their press offices very busy in election years.
But in Hawaii, the important role of the attorney general makes Chin's position different. Hawaii's constitution insulates the AG from politics. Unlike most states, the position is appointed, not elected. It's also the only governor appointee the governor can't fire. The office employs dozens of attorneys responsible for honest and impartial advice to state agencies.
By running for congress while serving as attorney general, Chin runs the risk of politicizing an office whose image of fairness is key on contentious issues,including the Thirty Meter Telescope, which will be a big issue this year.
Doug Chin may be a good candidate for Congress, but he should not risk the reputation of an office so important to the state.