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Voters have given state Rep. Mark Takai the nod over Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and five other candidates vying for the Democratic slot in the 1st Congressional District race.
With most precincts reporting by early Sunday morning, Takai was the winner with 43 percent of the vote, 52,719 people casting their ballots for him. Kim had 27 percent, followed by Honolulu City Council members Stanley Chang at 10 percent, Ikaika Anderson at 6 percent and Joey Manahan at 4 percent. State Sen. Will Espero had 4 percent and human rights advocate Kathryn Xian had 3 percent.
Takai will face Republican Charles Djou in the Nov. 4 general election. Djou easily defeated Allan Levene with 91 percent of the vote.
State Rep. Mark Takai smiles during an interview with KITV after early election results showed him with a huge lead, Saturday, at Ferguson’s Pub in downtown Honolulu.
Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat
The crowd at Kim’s campaign headquarters at Ward Plaza was subdued after early election results were announced. A few dozen supporters had been all smiles, waving their blue “Donna Mercado Kim” signs for live TV news reports. But it was more about the great spread of local food after seeing her down 18 percent early in the evening.
Takai’s election-night headquarters in the courtyard at Ferguson’s Pub was packed most of the night. Several dozen supporters wore their white campaign T-shirts and carried matching signs, cheering when he made appearances with his family.
Just before 10 p.m., Takai walked with his family down a tunnel of supporters to give his victory speech, surrounded by his family.
He told the crowd that the campaign will not let up until the general election.
“We are gonna continue our fight tomorrow and we will remain vigilant and we will remain victorious come November,” Takai said.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono joined Takai on the makeshift stage to offer their support.
Gabbard said she looked forward to working with Takai again and having another veteran in Congress. In 2002, they served on the Higher Education Committee in the Legislature.
“I look forward to moving forward through November, standing next to Mark, pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, making those phone calls, so we can have two veterans representing Hawaii,” Gabbard said.
Xian and Anderson congratulated Takai on his victory.
“Congratulations to Mark Takai on his victory tonight,” Xian said. “Our spirited debates brought fresh ideas about building communities that meet everyone’s needs.”
Anderson said he will do everything possible to help Takai become the next congressman from Hawaii. “Imua!”
State Rep. Mark Takai shakes hands with the passenger of a car that was driving down Bishop Street as he was en route to make his victory speech, Saturday.
Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat
The packed Democratic race to represent almost 1 million people in urban Oahu has been largely overshadowed this year due to the close contests for governor and an open U.S. Senate seat.
Despite the lack of attention, the U.S. House seat — one of just two representing Hawaii in Congress — is an undeniably important one.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa held the post for two terms before vacating it to run for Senate against Brian Schatz. There’s a long history of incumbents before her keeping their job until they decide to step down.
Djou has a significant fundraising advantage over Takai since the Democrats spent hundreds of thousands of dollars competing against themselves in the primary race.
As of July 20, when the candidates’ pre-primary filing reports were due with the Federal Elections Commission, Djou had $439,707 on hand. Takai had $165,531 left in his account at that point.
Both candidates have continued to raise money though. Djou added $27,300 over the following two weeks and Takai hauled in another $16,100.
“We suspect that come Sunday, we’re going to have to focus on raising money,” Takai told Civil Beat after giving his victory speech. “But we’ll get there.”
Takai said when he launched his campaign for Congress a year ago, he and his team thought it would take $1 million to win the primary. He raised roughly $700,000, less than Chang or Kim.
Despite the crowded field, the CD1 race for the Democratic nomination was always between Kim and Takai.
Civil Beat polling in February showed Kim up 5 percent over Takai, and that widened to 6 percent in May. Both had a double-digit lead over the rest of the pack.
Takai attributed the shift in momentum to his campaign strategy. He said his campaign built a solid ground foundation to boost his name recognition, then launched a media blitz in July with TV ads and direct mailers.
Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat
Gabbard Unopposed in Primary
In Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District race, incumbent Tulsi Gabbard is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
She picked up 81 percent of the vote as of Sunday morning.
Gabbard will face Republican Kawika Crowley, an advocate for smokers’ rights who she crushed in 2012, in the November general election. He prevailed over Marissa Capelouto, a businesswoman, 42.5 percent to 32.7 percent.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard congratulates state Rep. Mark Takai, right, on winning the Democratic nomination in the 1st Congressional District race.