What will the Hawaii State Legislature look like after the 2014 elections?
Probably a lot like the 2013-2014 Legislature.
Most incumbents will likely coast to re-election, as they typically do. That means Democrats are favored to retain majority control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
But there are a number of interesting primary and general election races that could bring new blood to the Hawaii State Capitol.
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Some of that will depend on voters openness to electing Republican candidates, especially those who opposed the special session on same-sex marriage. Currently, there is only one Republican in the 25-member Senate and seven in the 51-member House.
There are also more independent candidates than usual, even though Greens, Libertarians and other indie candidates have generally struck out in the islands. Hawaii has a pathetic voter turnout rate; will new party options help get people to the precincts?
Based on an analysis of the list of filed candidates, here’s how Civil Beat is handicapping the legislative contests — all 64 of them.
Mostly Sitting Pretty
Thirteen of the 25 Senate seats are up this year.
As of the State Election Office’s 4:30 p.m. deadline Tuesday, only two Senate races are uncontested in both the primary and general.
Honolulu City Councilman Breene Harimoto, a Democrat, is one of those and thus a shoo-in to win the District 16 seat on Oahu being vacated by David Ige, who’s running for governor. Sen. Kalani English of Maui has a clear road ahead, too.
Four Democratic incumbents face no primary challenger: Sens. Josh Green from the Big Island, and Clarence Nishihara, Jill Tokuda and Michelle Kidani from Oahu. Each will have general election opponents, but none are well known.
In the House, all 51 seats are up.
There will be several new faces in the Hawaii Senate — and maybe more. But that’s up to voters.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
Democratic incumbent Cindy Evans of the Big Island faces no challengers this year. The same goes for Democrats Karl Rhoads, Ty Cullen, Marcus Oshiro, Romy Cachola and Ken Ito of Oahu.
These Democrats have a free ride until the general election: Mark Nakashima and Richard Onishi of the Big Island; Joe Souki, Angus McKelvey and Kyle Yamashita of Maui; Derek Kawakami of Kauai; and Mark Hashem, Bert Kobayashi, Della Au Belatti, Sylvia Luke, Scott Saiki, Takashi Ohno, John Mizuno, Linda Ichiyama, Gregg Takayama, Roy Takumi, Ryan Yamane, Jo Jordan, Scott Nishimoto, Tom Brower and Chris Lee of Oahu.
Five Republican incumbents also face no primary competition: Gene Ward, Aaron Ling Johanson, Lauren Matsumoto, Bob McDermott and Beth Fukumoto Chang of Oahu.
Senate Races to Watch
Lorraine Inouye, a former state senator and Big Island mayor, is running against Malama Solomon once again. Inouye lost to Solomon by a scant 69 votes in 2012.
Another hot race is in District 23 on Oahu where the seat of Clayton Hee, who is running for lieutenant governor, is open.
Richard Fale, a GOP representative, confronts former GOP Rep. Colleen Meyer in the primary. Former Sen. Melodie Aduja said she would run for the seat again but did not file. That leaves Rep. Gil Riviere — a former Republican — as the lone candidate in the Democratic primary, and Hee has endorsed him.
There are more independent candidates than usual, even though Greens, Libertarians and other indie candidates have generally struck out in the islands.
In the Democratic primary, Sen. Rosalyn Baker of Maui has drawn Terez Amato, who is running on a platform that seeks labeling of genetically modified foods and limits on pesticide use.
It seemed that Sen. Brickwood Galuteria of Oahu was going to face Democrat Sharon Moriwaki, who has fought to control development of Kakaako. The neighborhood is in Galuteria’s district, and he favors growth. But Moriwaki ended up not filing. Galuteria still faces another Democrat and, should he get past the primary, a Republican opponent.
Sen. Maile Shimabukuro of Oahu faces Democrat Michael Kahikina, a former House rep.
There are a handful of Libertarian candidates seeking Senate seats — offering an alternative to our entrenched two-party system that is pretty much a one-party system.
House Races to Watch
Four Democrats are trying to unseat Faye Hanohano in the District 4 seat on the Big Island. Hanohano has made headlines for her controversial views on Native Hawaiian issues, something that has upset some people who seek new leadership.
Another Big Island Democrat, Richard Creagan, was appointed to replace Denny Coffman late last year. Also seeking that seat are another Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian and a nonpartisan candidate.
Big Island Democrat Nicole Lowen is looking at a rematch against Kalei Akaka, the granddaughter of former U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka. Akaka lost to Lowen by a mere 45 votes two years ago.
On Maui, freshmen Democrat Justin Woodson, another Abercrombie appointee, will face former Maui Mayor James “Kimo” Apana in the primary.
On Kauai, Democrat Jimmy Tokioka has challenger Dylan Hooser, son of Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser. Democrat Dee Morikawa faces Butch Kahawai in the primary, where two Republicans are also competing.
Senators and reps sing “Hawaii Ponoi” in the Hawaii House Chamber on the last day of the 2014 session.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
On Oahu, former House Speaker Calvin Say is running once again. And, once again, he will face Republican Julia Allen and Green Keiko Bonk.
Another Oahu Democrat, Isaac Choy, is seeing his seat challenged by Democrat Nate Kinney. Kinney has singled out Choy’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
With Mark Takai running for the U.S. House, three Dems and a GOP candidate are going after his Oahu seat. And Jessica Wooley’s appointment to the Office of Environmental Quality Control has drawn five people into contention for her Oahu seat, including Democrats Robert Harris, currently on leave from the Sierra Club, and Jarrett Keohokalole.
Former Democrat Rep. Michael Magaoay hopes to beat Oahu Republican Matsumoto, mentioned above. In the meantime, Democrat Marilyn Lee wants a rematch against Beth Fukumoto, who defeated Lee in 2012. But first Lee must get past Democrat Luella Costales. And Richard Fale’s run for the Senate has attracted Democrat Kent Fonoimoana and Republican Feki Pouha for his House seat.
Republican Cynthia Thielen, a moderate who voted for same-sex marriage, opposes Joan Hood, a Windward Oahu pastor.
Democrat Henry Aquino is opposed by another former rep, Alex Sonson, for his Oahu seat. Gay rights activist Michael Golojuch Jr. aims to knock off Sharon Har, the Democrat who helped lead the unsuccessful opposition to same-sex marriage.
And Rida Cabanilla, under an ethical cloud for directing state funds to a nonprofit she is involved with, will again go up against Democrat Matt LoPresti, whom she beat two years ago. That Oahu seat also features former Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg running as a Libertarian and two GOP contenders.
Finally, Republican Cynthia Thielen, a moderate who voted for same-sex marriage, opposes Joan Hood, a Windward Oahu pastor. Oahu Democrat Chris Lee, one of the leaders of the same-sex marriage battle, will meet Wayne Hikida in the general. Hikida, who has signs up all over Kailua and Waimanalo, supports “the traditional family.”