Ben Cayetano

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Updated May 2017

Ben Cayetano, a Democrat, was the fifth governor of Hawaii, serving from 1994 to 2002. He was the first Filipino-American to rise to the level of governor in any U.S. state. He lost a tough mayoral campaign to Kirk Caldwell in 2012 but established himself as the leading opponent of the Honolulu rail project.

His argument against rail was that it would cost much more than the projected $5.2 billion and he was right. By early 2017, the cost was estimated to be at least $10 billion.

Cayetano was one of the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit challenging the Honolulu rail project’s environmental documents, claiming that rail planners did not adequately consider alternatives and violated federal law. The city eventually prevailed in that lawsuit and Cayetano and the other plaintiffs decided not to appeal.

In the 2012 mayor’s race, Cayetano received 45 percent of the vote while Caldwell received 53 percent. Cayetano’s platform centered on stopping the Honolulu rail project from proceeding, and pro-rail factions — most notably the Pacific Resource Partnership, a Carpenters’ Union affiliate — spent millions to defeat him.

PRP ran attack ads that have been widely viewed as one of the most negative campaigns in Hawaii history. Cayetano filed a defamation lawsuit against PRP and in 2014 the organization settled the case by publicly apologizing and, at Cayetano’s request, donating more than $100,000 to charities chosen by the former governor.

Cayetano was born Nov. 14, 1939. He grew up in Kalihi, graduated from Farrington High School and is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. He later went to Loyola Law School in California and returned to Hawaii to enter local politics as a Democrat.

He served in the Hawaii House of Representatives, then in the state Senate, then as lieutenant governor to Gov. John Waihee. He bested Republican Pat Saiki and former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, running as an independent, in the 1994 gubernatorial election. In 1998, he narrowly edged Republican Linda Lingle, who succeeded Cayetano as governor in 2002 after he was term-limited out of office.

Cayetano’s lieutenant governor was Mazie Hirono, who later became a U.S. senator.

Ben Cayetano

April 2017

Friday, April 21

Cayetano To Trump: Cut Honolulu Rail Funds

August 2016

Saturday, August 13

Caldwell, Djou Headed For Runoff In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

Monday, August 8

Caldwell Touts Democratic Support

June 2016

Wednesday, June 15

Djou Gets Some Democratic Support In Campaign For Mayor

May 2016

Tuesday, May 10

New Political Parties Get Their Shot On Hawaii Ballots This Year

October 2015

Monday, October 5

Pod Squad: Who’s More Local? The Discussion Has Just Begun

Thursday, October 1

Is Anybody More Local Than Ben Cayetano?

March 2015

Monday, March 9

Cayetano: PRP Super PAC Broke Federal Election Law

September 2014

Tuesday, September 30

Denby Fawcett: Digging Up Dirt and Opposition Research 101

Thursday, September 11

Hidden Super PAC Money Comes to Light in Campaign Spending Reports

Wednesday, September 10

Hawaii Candidates Need to Sign the ‘People’s Pledge’

June 2014

Friday, June 13

Former Hawaii Gov. Cayetano Settles Libel Lawsuit Against Super PAC

October 2013

Wednesday, October 9

Tunnel Vision? Not When It Comes to Honolulu’s High Stakes Rail Project

January 2013

Thursday, January 10

Former Hawaii Gov. Cayetano Says He’ll Appeal Rail Ruling

October 2012

Monday, October 29

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano Peaks, Caldwell Surges

Tuesday, October 23

Off the Beat: New Low In Political Ads

Wednesday, October 10

Will A New Law Mean Federal Funding for Honolulu BRT?

Monday, October 1

Civil Beat Poll – Unwavering Rail Opposition Gives Cayetano Lead

September 2012

Friday, September 28

Cayetano’s Transit Plan: Back to the Future

Tuesday, September 25

Caldwell Against Gov’s Natatorium Plan, Cayetano Wants More Info

Thursday, September 20

Cayetano: Bus Rapid Transit ‘Sweeping the Country’

Saturday, September 8

Ben and Kirk Talk Journalism And, Of Course, Politics

July 2012

Thursday, July 26

Accused of Corruption, Mitsunagas Punch Back With Radio Ads

Cayetano: 2 in 100 Will Ride Rail, Half Will Be Bus Riders

Saturday, July 21

In Twist, PRP Chief Target Of Campaign Probe

Tuesday, July 17

Attack Ads Push Campaign Cash Into Spotlight In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

Pro-Rail Money Follows Caldwell, Carlisle Lags

Thursday, July 12

Cayetano: You Can’t Build Home Additions in Pearl City

Caldwell: Honolulu Has 43 Fire Stations, 25 EMS Stations

Wednesday, July 11

Former Campaign Chief In Town To Back Cayetano

June 2012

Tuesday, June 26

Ben Cayetano Answers Honolulu Mayor Survey

Honolulu Mayor Hopefuls Differ on Big Issues

Monday, June 11

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano’s Grip On Honolulu Mayor’s Race Is Slipping

May 2012

Thursday, May 31

Firefighter Fiasco Unfolds in Fiery Back and Forth

Thursday, May 24

Mayoral Hopefuls Sharpen Attacks in First TV Debate

Pro-Rail Union Group Ups Ante Against Cayetano

Thursday, May 10

Dear Dan: Cayetano’s Email to Inouye

Thursday, May 3

Playing To Type In First Honolulu Mayoral Debate

March 2012

Wednesday, March 28

Is Honolulu Rail Debt Causing Budget Cuts?

Tuesday, March 20

Cayetano: Mayor Cut Police, Fire

Monday, March 19

Cayetano’s Transit Plan Mirrors Harris’ in 2000

Thursday, March 1

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano Tops 50% In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

February 2012

Friday, February 24

End Politics As Usual, Then Cross the Street

Friday, February 17

Cayetano Cuts Civil Beat From Campaign Media List

Tuesday, February 14

FTA Watching Opponents, Wants $250M for Honolulu Rail

Friday, February 10

Just How Deep Will Honolulu Rail’s Debt Be?

Tuesday, February 7

Sen. Inouye Can’t See the Forest When it Comes to Rail

Monday, February 6

Profs Like Cayetano On Rail, But Not Ready To ‘Forgive and Forget’?

Friday, February 3

Back Into The Lion’s Den, Cayetano Asking for Professors’ Support

Thursday, February 2

Does Line-of-Credit Rail Plan Leave Honolulu Taxpayers on Hook?

January 2012

Tuesday, January 31

Modest Fundraising Opens Door In Mayor’s Race

Saturday, January 21

10 Must Read Stories From The Week Of Jan. 16 – 20

Friday, January 20

Cayetano: Rail A Wall of Concrete Snaking Along Honolulu’s Waterfront

Thursday, January 19

Remembering Ben: The Cayetano Years

Cayetano: I’m Not a One-Issue Anti-Rail Candidate