Former Hawaii congressman Ed Case will be returning to Washington.

The Associated Press declared victory for Case over Republican challenger Cam Cavasso Tuesday evening. Election results showed Case over Cavasso by 70.3 percent to 22.2 percent in the race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, which represents urban Oahu. 

Case told supporters he’s grateful to the voters and is looking forward to working with Hawaii’s “incredible delegation.” He’s also happy the House will be run by the Democrats after eight years of GOP control.

The House will be able “to provide real checks and balances to this administration,” Case said. “It is not going to be easy at all. Victory is just a moment in time.”

Congressman Elect Ed Case Dole Cannery Ballroom.
Ed Case was elected to the 1st Congressional District in Tuesday’s general election. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2018

There also were no surprises in the two other congressional races on the Hawaii ballot. Voters preferred incumbent Democrats over other candidates by overwhelming margins.

AP has already called the Senate race for incumbent Sen. Mazie Hirono, who beat Republican challenger Ron Curtis 69.3 percent to 28.1 percent. 

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was also declared a victor by AP over Republican Brian Evans. She beat Evans by a 74 percent to 21.7 percent in the race for the 2nd Congressional District, which represents rural Oahu and the neighbor islands.

(See full election results for races statewide.)

“This is when the real work begins,” Gabbard said after returns showed her decisive victory.

She noted during a TV news interview that there are plenty of issues facing Hawaii that she’ll be working on, including infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, health care, immigration and criminal justice reform. “The high cost of living continues to be one of the biggest issues facing our families,” she said.

The Democrats victories came on a night when the party captured the majority in the U.S. House.

Mazie Hirono said she’s excited for the House to be able to provide a “check on the runaway president” and GOP Senate initiatives.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who was not on the ballot this year, also was delighted the Democrats have regained control of the House.

“For the first time since Donald Trump has become the president we will have an institutional check and balance on that power,” Schatz said.

There was little in the way of drama in the Case-Cavasso race.

Although they participated in a handful of debates and forums, it was clear Case was the frontrunner in a state that rarely sends Republicans to Washington.

Case is a moderate Democrat, who was unafraid to side with Republicans when he represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District from 2002 to 2007.

The former congressman describes himself as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative, someone who wants to rein in a ballooning federal deficit that has only gotten worse under Republican President Donald Trump.

Case is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage and is open to the idea of legalized recreational marijuana.

Cavasso, meanwhile, is a perennial candidate on the Republican ticket whose last electoral victory was in 1988 when he won a third term to the state House of Representatives. Since then he’s lost a number of federal races, most notably against the late U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye.

Case beat a crowded field to win the Democratic nomination in August. Among his opponents were Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim and Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin. State reps. Beth Fukumoto and Kaniela Ing were also in the race.

Case’s rise to the top of the Democratic field was swift, especially considering he entered the race just before the June filing deadline.

If Case versus Cavasso was a drab affair with a seemingly preordained outcome, the other federal races on the ballot were even more so.

Sen. Mazie Hirono was making national headlines in Washington while enjoying a cakewalk to re-election. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Hirono didn’t even draw a Democratic primary challenger. In the general election she faced off with a relative unknown Republican in Curtis, a retired engineer who only raised $10,000 in campaign money compared to Hirono’s $4.7 million.

Polls show Hirono’s popularity in Hawaii has increased in recent years along with her national profile. Hirono, who was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer in 2017, has been a vocal critic of Trump.

She made national headlines during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, particularly when she called on men to “shut up,” “step up” and “do the right thing” in response to sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

Gabbard, meanwhile, already appears to be looking ahead to 2020, and a possible bid for president. Politico reported that Gabbard made visits in recent months to Iowa and New Hampshire. She also has a book scheduled to come out next year. 

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the 2018 Hawaii Democratic Convention held at the Hilton Waikaloa in Kona, Hawaii.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard may have been more focused on a 2020 presidential bid than her 2018 re-election campaign. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

She faced a feisty Democratic challenger in Sherry Alu Campagna, who garnered a lot of attention after receiving the endorsement of the state teachers union. Gabbard was criticized for refusing to debate Campagna or participate in candidate forums. The congresswoman has not taken part in a candidate debate since she was first elected to Congress in 2012.

After easily defeating Campagna in the primary, Gabbard faced Republican Evans, who also complained about her refusal to debate.

Evans is a Las Vegas crooner with a home on Maui who ran to bring more attention to sleep apnea and hospital medical errors in the wake of his mother’s death.

Civil Beat reporter Nathan Eagle contributed to this report.

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