Colleen Hanabusa, a former congresswoman who came in third place in Honolulu’s mayoral election, is backing her former opponent Rick Blangiardi for the job.

In a press conference via Zoom on Monday morning, Hanabusa said that Blangiardi is the one she trusts to lead the city through its current pandemic crisis. In making her endorsement, the longtime Democrat is giving a boost to a self-described independent over Keith Amemiya, who has campaigned as a Democrat in the nonpartisan race.

Honolulu Mayor candidate Colleen Hanabusa waves to cars in Nanakuli, HI, Friday, August 7, 2020. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)
Honolulu mayoral candidate Colleen Hanabusa came in third place. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2020

“I have always said throughout this campaign that rebuilding public confidence and faith in government, and trust in government, is going to be the greatest challenge for the next mayor,” she said. “I believe Rick Blangiardi is the person who can do that.”

In the Aug. 8 primary, Blangiardi was the top vote-getter with 69,510 votes. Amemiya came in second with 55,002. Hanabusa secured 50,120 votes.

Hanabusa, who made her state and federal experience the center of her campaign, acknowledged that neither general election candidate has the traditional political resume. However, Hanabusa said Blangiardi has the humility to admit what he doesn’t know.

“When there was a question asked of Rick that he didn’t know the answer, he would say ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find out,'” she said. “You know how honest that is? As opposed to somebody who may appear programmed and like a puppet and anytime you say a keyword, they respond with something. Rick is genuine.”

Blangiardi said he has long respected Hanabusa and thought he might be competing against her in the general election.

Meanwhile, the Amemiya campaign says they have been “flooded” with support from organizations and individuals who backed Hanabusa in the primary.

“We are confident that our vision of a more fair, more just, and better run Honolulu will resonate with voters,” Amemiya said in a statement.

Asked about what’s next for Hanabusa – perhaps a run for governor in 2022 – she said “never say never.”

“Stay tuned,” she said.

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