State Rep. Justin Woodson, appointed to the 9th House District seat in 2013 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, blamed a "miscommunication" for his campaign incorrectly announcing last week that he had been endorsed by House Speaker Joe Souki.
"I highly respect Speaker Souki and will never attempt to tarnish our good working relationship by falsely claiming endorsements," Woodson said in an email. "It was an honest and unfortunate miscommunication between myself and Speaker Souki, and I am taking responsibility."
After seeing a story published on Page A3 on Sunday that reported Woodson's announcement, Souki, a Wailuku Democrat, contacted The Maui News to say he did not endorse Woodson.
Souki said he was "very disappointed" and "distressed" with Woodson for making the announcement.
Souki said he doesn't normally endorse party candidates in a primary race. He said he was not endorsing Woodson or his opponent, former Maui County Mayor James "Kimo" Apana.
Apana has filed officially as a Democratic candidate for the 9th House seat, which covers Kahului, Puunene, old Sand Hills and Maui Lani. Woodson, also a Democrat, has checked out nomination papers but had not filed as of last week.
In his news release addressing what he called a "miscommunication," Woodson did not explain how that occurred.
"I take pride and am humbled with the trust I've gained from campaign endorsements, and I will continue to work hard for the community," he said. His news release lists eight endorsements, mostly from labor unions.
"I look forwarding to continuing to work together with Speaker Souki and bring positive change to Maui County and the state of Hawaii," he said. "Over the past two years working with Speaker Souki and the rest of the Maui delegation, I was able to pass important pieces of legislation and bring over $405 million in capital improvements to Central Maui. I hope to continue to have the opportunity to serve the community."