Remember Duke Aiona? He was our lieutenant governor from 2002 until 2010.

A Republican, he lost by double digits to Democrat Neil Abercrombie in the race for governor four years ago. But now he’s back and seeking the GOP nomination once again.

To reintroduce himself to Hawaii voters, Aiona posted a 30-second television ad after declaring his candidacy May 19.

It’s excerpted from a longer clip, viewable on YouTube, titled “Leadership is about the next generation.” The Aiona campaign loaded the longer clip on its official website May 30, and it’s called “Things You Can’t Say In Thirty Seconds.”

Clever. Lovely, too, and issue free.

Duke Aiona

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona at the Hawaii State Capitol, May 19, 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

No mention of Social Security or protecting kupuna and keiki or supporting preschool and tough gun control. Nothing about having the “right values.”

Instead, Aiona just talks about his family — specifically, his four children and granddaughter — who he introduces.

“Leadership is not about the next election,” Aiona says in the spot. “It’s about the next generation.”

Only the biggest cynic (that’d be, me) would say that Aiona is not simply proud of his beautiful brood. He and his wife Vivian are parents to Makana, Ohulani, Kuli‘a and Ka‘imilani, and grandparents to Rylee, who would win any prettiest baby contest hands down.

In the spots, Aiona manages to weave in his reminiscing about his time as a family court judge — something else that voters may have forgotten about him.

“I learned my responsibility as a leader was never about my position or my beliefs alone,” he explains. “Leadership is about the next generation.”

Before running as lieutenant governor on the ticket headed by Linda Lingle, Aiona had never run for office.

If he wins the Aug. 9 Republican primary — the two other GOP candidates, both from the Big Island, are not household names like him — Aiona will face off in the general election against a Democrat, either Abercrombie or state Sen. David Ige, and Mufi Hannemann, the former Honolulu mayor who is running as an independent.

Abercrombie and Hannemann are career politicians, and Ige has served in the state Senate for 29 years. Aiona could prove attractive to voters sick of “politics as usual.”

The Aiona spots also show another contrast with Hannemann and Abercrombie, who are both married but have no children. Ige, the father of three, happily features his ohana in his campaign materials.

That’s not to say that people who have never had kids cannot understand issues important to families. But it is harder for them to play the ohana card, which is what Aiona is doing in these videos.

Duke Aiona family

Duke and Vivian Aiona and their family.

www.dukeaiona.com

Did you know that Aiona grew up in Pearl City and now lives in Kapolei? Me neither. Those details are shared in the longer spot.

Did you know Aiona is the son of a Portuguese-Hawaiian father and a first generation Chinese mother? Me neither. That info (albeit misspelled) is shared on the website bio.

You can also view Aiona’s entire immediate ohana on his campaign website, which features a barefoot patriarch.

Aiona will have to distinguish himself on the issues soon enough, in particular after the primary. But the “next generation” clips are a gentle — and genuine — reminder that Duke Aiona is back in politics and should be taken seriously.

About the Author