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As expected, most incumbents in the Hawaii Legislature were returned to office after Tuesday’s elections.
Democrat Gil Riviere defeated Republican Richard Fale 50 percent to 46 percent in the District 23 seat on Oahu being vacated by Clayton Hee.
Fale’s decision to run for the Senate opened up his House of Representative seat. In that race, for District 47, Republican Feki Pouha won 50 percent to Democrat Kent Fonoimoana’s 45 percent.
The two North Shore contests were among the hottest this year in the Hawaii Legislature, with communities dividing over protection of the environment and pushing development. Add in social issues like same-sex marriage and it all made for a volatile mix.
In the current Legislature, Democrats control the Senate 24 seats to one — unless Fale pulls ahead of Riviere, and then its 23-2. The House majority for Democrats is 43-8.
As of the 10 p.m. round of results, it appeared that the Senate numbers would not change.
At least one Democratic incumbent went down to defeat, however: Oahu District 43’s Rep. Karen Awana lost to Republican Andria Tupola, 56 percent to 42 percent. With Pouha’s win, that would mean the House numbers may be 43 Democrats and eight Republicans — assuming the numbers hold.
All in all, though, it was a great night for the majority party.
“We are very pleased with the election results,” said Rep. Sylvia Luke, who chairs the House Finance committee and who won re-election tonight over Republican Ronald Lam. “This is a testament to how hard the candidates worked. It shows the type of work that some of these legislators said resonated with their districts.”
Luke and Rep. Tom Brower, who defeated Republican Janet Grace, said the same-sex marriage issue did not factor into votes for opponents of the law. Brower joked that he was “insulted” that opponents did not send out even more negative mailers than they did.
As with the North Shore campaigns, two House races in the Mililani area on Oahu also focused partly on social issues.
In District 36, Republican incumbent Beth Fukumoto Chang won 64 percent of the vote compared with 33 percent for Democrat Marilyn Lee. Lee was thrown out of office by Chang just two years ago, so this was a rematch.
Next door, in District 45, Republican incumbent Lauren Cheape Matsumoto earned 71 percent and her opponent, Democrat Mike Magaoay, a former lawmaker, received 27 percent.
In addition to the Fale-Riviere contest, there are several other open seats at play.
In House District 33, which was vacated by Rep. Mark Takai who was elected to the U.S. Congress, Democrat Sam Kong got 66 percent to Republican Robert Helsham’s 24 percent. The seat represents Aiea on Oahu
Meantime, in House District 41, Democrat Matt LoPresti received 47 percent, Republican Bryan Jeremiah earned 35 percent and Libertarian Tom Berg got 15 percent. LoPresti defeated incumbent Rida Cabanilla in the primary. District 41 includes Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe and West Loch.
Democrat Jessica Wooley left her House District 48 seat on Oahu to run the Office of Environmental Quality Control. The district is on Oahu’s Windward Side and represents Haiku, Kahaluu, Heeia, Ahuimanu and Kaneohe.
In that race, Democrat Jarrett Keohokalole won 56 percent, Republican Eldean Kukahiko scored 38 percent, Libertarian Kaimanu Takayama got 2 percent and nonpartisan candidate Kana Naipo, 1 percent. It was the rare general election battle that had four candidates.