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A late entry and a last-minute change of heart reshaped two of the biggest races this election season as candidates scrambled to meet Tuesday’s filing deadline.
In all, about 300 candidates are running to fill 104 local, state and federal seats.
Former state Sen. Clayton Hee bowed out of the governor’s race Monday, putting the focus on Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and Gov. David Ige. Hee is instead running for his old Senate seat representing windward Oahu; he’ll battle incumbent Sen. Gil Riviere in the primary.
And Ed Case decided to join the crowded 1st Congressional District contest, giving voters another option in the Democratic primary Aug. 11. The urban Oahu district stretches from Honolulu to Ko Olina, Hawaii Kai and Mililani.
The former congressman will have some ground to make up against those who have been campaigning for weeks or months, including Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, state Reps. Beth Fukumoto and Kaniela Ing, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Honolulu City Council Chair Ernie Martin.
Case was already out sign-waving Tuesday.
Case said he joined the Reformers Caucus late last year, a bipartisan group of former politicians who are hoping to re-engage with the political world because they’re dissatisfied with Washington’s political climate.
“I came to the decision to run pretty late in the game,” he said. “Mostly it was just watching the continual decline in Washington, just the dysfunction, the yelling and screaming, the lack of focus on solutions.”
He said campaign finance and lobbying reform, fiscal responsibility, climate change and foreign policy were among his priorities.
Case has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in previous races but isn’t starting with much money, according to the Federal Election Commission. He’s in the process of reaching out to supporters for campaign donations.
Kim, who finished second to the late Mark Takai in her bid for Congress four years ago, has been leading the pack in fundraising and polling. She had 26 percent support from likely Democratic primary voters in Civil Beat’s May poll. Chin had 19 percent, and 32 percent were undecided.
Thirteen state Senate seats and all 51 House seats are up for election this fall. More than two dozen candidates seeking those positions are unopposed in the primary, so all they had to do was sign up for the race to advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
But there are a dozen or more seats that are competitive, and there will be several new faces in the Legislature because of incumbents seeking higher office or retiring.
Three empty Senate seats have enticed members of the House and others to run.
Sen. Jill Tokuda, who’s running for lieutenant governor, will be leaving her Kaneohe seat (District 24) up for grabs. State Reps. Ken Ito and Jarrett Keohokalole will be squaring off in the Democratic primary in this winner-take-all contest since no Republicans or candidates from other parties filed to run.
Another LG candidate, Sen. Will Espero, has left open his District 19 seat, representing the Ewa area. Rep. Matt LoPresti had indicated he intends to run for it, along with fellow Democrats Alicia Maluafiti, a well-known lobbyist, and Veronica Duzon.
They do not have to finalize their candidacy filings until June 22, LoPresti said Tuesday night, because this is technically a special election due to Espero’s resignation.
And in Senate District 3, a Big Island seat that Sen. Josh Green is vacating to run for LG, Democrats Brenda Ford and Hawaii County Councilman Dru Kanuha will be battling it out.
On the House side, former Speaker Joe Souki’s District 8 seat on Maui is vacant for the first time in a generation. The Democrat, who was first elected in 1982, resigned in March after admitting to sexually harassing women.
Troy Hashimoto, whom Ige appointed to fill Souki’s seat till the next election, Justin Hughey, longtime former Councilman Dain Kane and Mary Wagner will be competing to take his place. No Republicans or other party candidates have filed to run, so the winner in August will become the next District 8 representative.
In another Maui race that’s expected to be competitive, District 12 Rep. Kyle Yamashita will be working to fend off Tiare Lawrence, who came within 350 votes of unseating him in 2016. Winner takes all in that contest too.
On Oahu, Rep. Isaac Choy has chosen to not seek another two-year term representing District 23, which includes Manoa and Punahou.
He won in 2016 by just 70 votes over fellow Democrat Dale Kobayashi, who is giving it another go this election. Kobayashi will face Dylan Armstrong, Elton Fukumoto, Benton Rodden and Andrew Garrett in this winner-takes-all primary.
In another race to fill an empty seat, Democrats Zuri Aki, Dean Hazama, Mae Patricia La Chica and Marilyn Lee will be running to replace Fukumoto. The District 36 seat represents Mililani.
Lee and Aki ran against each other in the 2016 primary too, when Fukumoto ran solo in the GOP primary. Lee won by a more than 2-to-1 margin, but lost in the general.
Former Rep. Rida Cabanilla will be trying to get her old District 41 seat back, which LoPresti was expected to leave vacant to run for the Senate. Also running is fellow Democrat Lynn Robinson-Onderko to represent Ewa and Ocean Pointe.
Cabanilla lost her seat to LoPresti in 2014 by 25 percentage points. She had come under fire earlier that year for taking a trip to Azerbaijan, funded by the republic, and then co-sponsoring legislation that critics said rewrote the history of the 1992 conflict there with Russia.
She also drew criticism for applying for a $100,000 grant in aid from the Legislature, which lawmakers initially approved, without disclosing that she controlled the nonprofit that was to receive the money.
On the west side of Oahu, Democrats Stacelynn Eli and Michael Juarez are running to fill the District 43 seat left vacant by Rep. Andria Tupola, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for governor against former state lawmaker John Carroll and Ray L’Heureux.
Eli beat former Rep. Karen Awana to become the Democratic nominee in 2016 but lost to Tupola in the general election by a 2-to-1 margin. Nonpartisan candidate Angela Kaaihue and Republican Sailau Timoteo are also in the race.
On the windward side of Oahu, former Rep. Jessica Wooley is working to return to the District 48 seat that Keohokalole is leaving so he can run for Senate.
Wooley will face fellow Democrats Keith Bukoski (also a former state lawmaker), Randy Gonce and Lisa Kitagawa-Akagi in this winner-take-all primary.
Four Democrats are running in the primary to fill the District 49 seat representing Kaneohe that Ito is leaving to run for Senate. The winner among Shannon Dalire, Natalia Hussey-Burdick, Scot Matayoshi and Maurice Radke will face nonpartisan candidate Adriel Lam in November if Lam secure the requisite number of votes in the primary to move on (either the same number as any candidate winning a partisan primary or 10 percnet of the overall votes cast in the primary).
In other House races to watch, Rep. Cedric Gates will be trying to keep his District 44 seat from former Rep. Jo Jordan. She lost to him in 2016 by just 240 votes.
The Hawaii Democratic Party said Gates should not have been allowed to run as a Democrat last election because he ran as a Green Party candidate in 2014. Party rules require at least three years before the switch can be made but party officials failed to notice their error in time.
In the same election, the Campaign Spending Commission fined Gates $453 for failing to report campaign contributions from Makaha resort developers during the primary race. Gates called it an honest mistake.
Several prominent Democrats are vying for lieutenant governor, technically the state’s No. 2 post. In practice it has held little power but has often served as a stepping stone to higher office.
Espero, Green and Tokuda, along with Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto will slug it out in the primary.
On the Republican side, Marissa Kerns, Steven Lipscomb and Jeremy Low will be on the ballot to win their party’s nomination.
Two of Hawaii’s four mayors are up for election this fall in nonpartisan races.
Carvalho was term-limited after a decade as Kauai’s chief executive. Six candidates are running to replace him, including former mayor and longtime Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, Council Chair Mel Rapozo, former state lawmaker and current Councilman Derek Kawakami, Kauai Parks Director Lenny Rapozo, Debra Kekaualua and Clint Yago. The top two candidates advance to the general election.
Rapozo and Yukimura, who often do not see eye to eye on issues, ran for mayor in a special election in 2008 to fill the remaining two years left on the term of the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
Carvalho led the pack with 40 percent of the vote, followed by Yukimura with 30 percent and Rapozo with 24 percent. Carvalho went on to beat Yukimura in the general by about 19 percentage points.
On Maui, Mayor Alan Arakawa is also term-limited so cannot seek another four years in office. He’s running for County Council instead.
Seeking to replace him are Council members Elle Cochran, Donald Guzman and Michael Victorino along with Beau Hawkes, Alec Hawley, Laurent Zahnd and Orion Kopelman.
Eighteen candidates are running for five seats for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Board of Trustees, including one for Maui, one for Oahu and three at-large. Terms are four years. The top two candidates in the primary advance to the general.
Trustee Carmen Lindsey is running against Jonah Kapu for the Maui seat. And Jackie Burke, Esther Kia’aina, Samuel King, Leona Kalima, Francine Murray and Paul Mossman are running for the Oahu seat.
OHA Trustee Lei Ahu Isa is seeking another term in an at-large seat, as are Trustees Rowena Akana and John Waihee IV. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Deputy Chairman William Aila Jr. is also running for an at-large seat, along with Alvin Akina, Marcus Pa’aluhi, Kali Puuohau, Eleanor Sharsh-Davis, Charles Amsterdam, former Rep. Faye Hanohano, Brendon Lee, Kealii Makekau, Landen Paikai, Anthony Paris and Ellen Ryan.
Also on the primary ballot is the 2nd Congressional District race between Democratic incumbent Tulsi Gabbard, Sherry Campagna, Brian Evans and Anthony Austin.
Gabbard, Hawaii’s most popular politician in recent polling, was expected to be a shoo-in. A surprise endorsement of Campagna by the Hawaii State Teachers Association will at least make things more interesting. Gabbard won the 2016 primary with 78 percent of the vote.
Sen. Mazie Hirono’s seat is also up for election. She’s unopposed in the Democratic primary but in the general will face the winner of several Republicans and potentially nonpartisan candidates who are running.
Voters will also be picking who they want to represent them at the local level. All four county councils have seats up for election this fall.
On Kauai, at least 21 candidates are running to fill seven seats. The top 14 advance to the general.
The other counties’ council members are elected by district. There are multiple candidates running for all the seats up for election except for two districts on the Big Island. Hawaii County Council members Susan Lee Loy and Karen Eoff will go on to serve another term unopposed.
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