Primary narrows field for U.S. Senate, House in November
LIHU‘E — The Primary Elections Saturday narrowed down a field of several Republicans and Democrats hoping to represent Hawai‘i in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
The road to primaries proved to be one the most exciting races in the last few years for the Democratic Party, with Congresswoman Mazie Hirono breaking away after running a neck-to-neck race with former Congressman Ed Case for a Senate nomination, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who appeared to be the certain Democratic choice for the House, losing his ticket to former Honolulu Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard in one of the most surprising turnovers of recent years.
“On behalf of our kupuna, our keiki, our middle class families who need a senator on their side — I’m proud to be your nominee for the United States Senate,” Hirono said in a press release sent after most of the votes had been counted Saturday.
With a final official count of 134,724 votes, Hirono comfortably beat Case, who received 95,543 votes.
The other Democratic hopefuls came far from threatening to take the blue ticket in November elections. Arturo Reyes had 1,720 votes, Michael Gillespie had 1,103 votes and Antonio Gimbernat had 517 votes.
Hirono will now face Republican and former Gov. Linda Lingle in what could be a tight race for Hawai‘i’s second U.S. Senate seat in the General Elections Nov. 6. In 2002, Hawai‘i gubernatorial race, Hirono beat Case in the primaries, only to lose to Lingle in the generals.
Lingle received 44,245 votes, trouncing the other Republican candidates; John Carroll, with 2,899 votes, John Rocco, with 545 votes, Charles Collins, with 365 votes, and Eddie Pirkowski, with 232 votes.
Hirono and Lingle will also face Heath Beasley, the lone nonpartisan candidate in the primaries, which earned him an automatic ticket to the November elections. On Saturday, he received 827 votes.
As soon as the official results hit the state Office of Elections, Hirono and Lingle began to trade jabs through news releases.
“Whatever you may think of Linda Lingle, know that this is what her election would represent, one of the four seats the national Republicans need to take control of the U.S. Senate,” Hirono states in her release.
Lingle responded with news release 45 minutes later, stating that Hirono put her political career and the Democratic Party ahead of the people.
“The people of Hawai‘i need an independent senator who has a proven record of working with Democrats and Republicans and who has a clear plan for our future,” Lingle states in the release.
Regardless of the results in November, Hirono will be leaving her seat later this year at Hawai‘i’s 2nd Congressional District at the U.S. House of Representatives. The upcoming vacancy at the U.S. House has prompted what has been arguably the most surprising and exciting race of this election year.
When former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann first announced his candidacy for the U.S. House, representing the state’s rural areas, it appeared he would have been a shoe-in for the Democratic ticket.
But former Honolulu Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard sprinted in the polls in the last few months. The 31-year-old politician from Kapolei, O‘ahu, turned the race around in true Cinderella fashion, and won the Democratic nomination for November’s General Election.
Gabbard ended the night with 62,869 votes, against Hannemann’s 39,169 votes. She will face Republican Kawika Crowley, who received 9,053 votes, besting the other Republican candidate, Matthew DiGeronimo, who received 5,842 votes.
Other Democratic candidates for the U.S. House were Esther Kia‘aina, with 6,680 votes, Bob Marx, with 4,327 votes, Miles Shiratori, with 573 votes, and Rafael Del Castillo, with 520 votes.
Nakamura at the top of council list, Hooser sneaks in 7th place
LIHU‘E — With a field of only nine candidates — including all seven incumbents — fighting for one of the seven seats at the Kaua‘i County Council, first-term Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura came at the top of the list for the next council body in Saturday’s Primary Election.
“I’m just so thrilled, I’m overwhelmed. Wow, I’m kind of in shock,” Nakamura said moments after finding out her placement in the primaries, with 9,388 votes. When she first ran for office in 2010, she came in second place.
Crediting her achievement to her supporters, “working people,” people who raise families and retired citizens, Nakamura said she always works hard to understand issues and to come prepared to council meetings.
“I hope people appreciate that and help me to serve again,” she said.
Nakamura pulled ahead of second-place candidate, Council Chair Jay Furfaro, by over 1,000 votes. Furfaro received 8,366 votes.
Council Vice Chair JoAnn Yukimura came on Furfaro’s heels, with 8,355 votes.
Councilman Mel Rapozo came in fourth place, close to the pack ahead of him, with 8,264 votes.
Ross Kagawa, running for council for the first time, received 7,799 votes to slide into fifth place, ahead of incumbent Councilman KipuKai Kuali‘i.
It’s the first time Kuali‘i makes the top-seven list at an election for council. In 2008 he came in ninth place. In 2010, he came in eight place and got the job after former Councilman Derek Kawakami left his seat to accept a nomination to represent the 14th District of the state House of Representatives.
Former state Sen. Gary Hooser surprised many with his last-minute bid for council, the very place where he initiated his political career in 1998, before going on to the state Senate to serve for eight years.
On Saturday, Hooser came in seventh place, with 7,063 votes, narrowly beating incumbent Councilman Tim Bynum, who came in eight place with 7,013 votes.
Incumbent Councilman Dickie Chang came in last, with 6,634 votes.
The results Saturday are merely an indicative of who may make the list of seven council members for the next two years, as none of the candidates will be forced out of the race.
The real results will come from the General Election to be held Nov. 6.
‘Humbled’ Kollar tops Iseri-Carvalho in primaries by 1.2%
LIHU‘E — Deputy County Attorney Justin Kollar bested County Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho in the primaries Saturday on the way to his bid to become the next county prosecutor.
“I’m very honored and humbled by everyone who came out and supported me today,” Kollar said right after the results of all 16 precincts had been announced.
He said there is still a “long road ahead” until the Nov. 6 General Election. He thanked his supporters and said he will not disappoint them.
Kollar, who primarily serves the Kaua‘i Police Department, received 7,018 votes. Iseri-Carvalho, who has the endorsement of KPD Chief’s wife, Solette Perry, received 6,969 votes. There were 1,549 blank votes.
Iseri-Carvalho has held her office position since 2008, when she ran unopposed, but received 56 percent of the votes — 44 percent of the votes were blank. She had previously served as a member of the Kaua‘i County Council.
In 2008, the election for county prosecutor was decided in the primaries, because there was only one candidate.
The results Saturday are an indicative of where voters may lean in Nov. 6 — or which candidate may need to campaign harder — as both candidates will go straight to the General Election.
Business as usual for Hawai‘i’s Senate, House
LIHU‘E — Although it may have been an exciting Primary Election Saturday for Kaua‘i’s state legislators, it was rather an unsurprising one, with all four incumbents coming at the top of their races — especially because half the field is running unopposed.
Reps. Derek Kawakami, D-14th District, and Jimmy Tokioka, D-15th District, have non opponents in this year’s election. On Saturday, Kawakami received 3,261 votes and Tokioka received 3,485 votes.
Rep. Dee Morikawa, D-16th District, took office in 2010 after a surprising victory over incumbent and fellow Democrat Roland Sagum in the primaries. She then beat Republican Phil Sterker in the General Election, receiving 73.3 percent of the votes.
This year, Morikawa is facing Republican Troy Trujillo, a restaurant owner who lives in Koloa.
She easily bested Trujillo in the Saturday primaries, receiving 3,403 votes against the Republican’s 348 votes. Both will battle again in November.
If the primaries are any indication of how the General Election will turn out, Kaua‘i’s sole Senate seat will also likely remain unchanged in the next term.
Sen. Ron Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i, Ni‘ihau, received 9,538 votes against his Republican opponent, William Georgi, of ‘Ele‘ele, who received 1,173 votes. Both will also face each other again in November.
All Kaua‘i candidates for the state House and Senate will move on to the General Election Nov. 6.
• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.