Hawaii’s Democrats have controlled the state Legislature for a half century, and Tuesday’s elections won’t alter that pattern.
But incumbent Joey Bertram lost and Marilyn Lee is in jeopardy. There will be several new faces in both caucuses come January.
Colleen Hanabusa‘s election to Congress means Senate Democrats will be searching for a new president, while House Republicans will seek to replace Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan.
In the last legislative session, Democrats ruled the Senate 23-2 and the House 45-6. In the new, it will be 24-1 and either 43-8 or 42-9, depending how Lee’s race turns out.
The local GOP managed to field candidates in most races this year, but in the end their efforts mostly fell short.
Based on the fourth elections printout early Wednesday, Democrats picked up one seat in the Senate, giving them a 24-1 Senate majority over Republicans, but lost two or three seats in the House of Representatives.
Still, unlike the voter anger manifested in many mainland races, Hawaii voters seemed largely unperturbed and returned nearly every incumbent that ran in the general election.
In some of the most contested races, where vacancies opened up 10 seats, Democrats prevailed in eight. Civil Beat reports on the critical races in each chamber.
Democrat Ron Kouchi prevailed over Republican David Hamman 63-27 percent for the Kauai–Niihau seat formerly held by Gary Hooser.
Kouchi, a former member of the Kauai County Council, was appointed by Gov. Linda Lingle to temporarily fill the seat not long after Hooser resigned this summer to run, unsuccessfully, for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.
Democrat Glen Wakai, a state representative, defeated Republican Ben Pascua 61-30 percent to take the Salt Lake-Foster Village seat on Oahu held by Norman Sakamoto. Sakamoto was defeated in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
Wakai is a public-relations consultant and a former reporter for KHNL News.
Democrat Donovan Dela Cruz, a term-limited member of the Honolulu City Council, defeated Republican Charles “Bo” Aki 67-27 percent to win the North Shore seat formerly held by Robert Bunda. Bunda, a former Senate president, lost the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
The seat is temporarily held by Laura Figueira, who was appointed by Lingle to hold Bunda’s seat after he resigned to run for higher office.
Democrat Pohai Ryan was the victor in the race to replace Republican Fred Hemmings, who is retiring from politics. Ryan, a legislative office manager for Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, won 50-40 percent over Republican Virginia Enos.
The seat extends from Lanikai to Waimanalo on Oahu.
Update Democratic Rep. Joey Bertram lost to Republican challenger George Fontaine to represent the Makena, Wailea and Kihei area on Maui.
After the fourth printout, Bertram trailed Fontaine 49-46 percent with 172 votes separating the two.
Democrat Daynette “Dee” Morikawa trounced Republican Phil Sterker 73-18 percent for the seat that represents Niihau and the Lehua-Koloa-Waimea area on Kauai.
Morikawa, an employee with Kauai County‘s parks and recreation department, unseated Rep. Roland Sagum in the Sept. 18 primary.
Democrat Mark Hashem bested Republican Chris Baron 48-44 percent for the seat representing Hahaione, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Hawaii Loa Ridge, Aina Haina, Wailupe and Kahala.
Hashem, a small-business owner and legislative aide, replaces Lyla Berg, who lost in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. Baron is an employee at the Hawaii State Energy Office.
Democrat Linda Ichiyama, at 24, will be the youngest member of the House of Representatives, thanks to her 65-33 percent win over Republican Garner Shimizu in the district representing Moanalua Valley, Moanalua and Salt Lake.
Ichiyama, a graduate of the UH law school and event coordinator of Planed Parenthood of Hawaii, replaces Democrat Glen Wakai, who was elected to the state Senate.
Republican Aaron Johanson edged Democrat Lei Sharsh 52-41 percent in the district covering Lower Pearlridge, Aiea, Halawa, Hickam, Pearl Harbor and Moanalua Gardens.
Johanson is a former aide to Rep. Lynn Finnegan, the departing minority leader — she was defeated in the race for lieutenant governor — and former deputy chief of staff to Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona.
This race to represent Mililani and Mililani Mauka on Oahu was too close to call.
After the fourth printout, longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Marilyn Lee — one of several House assistant majority whips — led Republican Shaun Kawakami by just 17 votes.
Kawakami is a former youth pastor at Mililani Missionary Church.
Democrat Ty Cullen eased past Republican Carl Wong in the Waipahu-Waikele-Village Park district, 70-26 percent.
Cullen, a program director at Hale Kipa, replaces Jon Riki Karamatsu, who lost in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.
Republican Gil Riviere defeated Democrat Larry Sagaysay 55-41 percent in the Oahu North Shore District.
Riviere is a mortgage banker with Mann Mortgage.
With Colleen Hanabusa’s election to Congress, state Senate Democrats will be choosing a new president and other top leadership positions, including those that were held by Gary Hooser and Norman Sakamoto. There will likely be a change in committee chairs and vice chairs as well.
On the Republican side, veteran lawmaker Sam Slom will be the minority leader and sole member of his party.
In the House Calvin Say will likely seek to retain his speakership, helped by the number of incumbents who were re-elected and his long association with governor-elect Neil Abercrombie and lieutenant governor-elect Brian Schatz. Both men previously served in the state House.
A shuffle of other top leadership and committee chairs is expected.
On the Republican side, the party will select a new minority leader to replace Lynn Finnegan.
The Legislature will begin its 2011 session Jan. 19.
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