Hawaii’s August 11th primary a hot race in paradise to watch

President Obama’s home state primary has former governors, mayors and Afghanistan veterans in play for key offices.

HONOLULU, August 7, 2012 – Hawaii’s upcoming Saturday primary election has no shortage of races to watch with a diverse field of former governors, mayors, Afghanistan veterans and other unique personalities running in hotly contested races that may determine November winners.

Running for U.S. Senate to replace retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka is congresswoman Mazie Hirono, who faces a primary challenge from former congressman Ed Case and three others in the Democratic primary. Hirono, who various polls suggest enjoys a double digit lead over Case, is likely to be the winner Saturday night to face a general match-up against former Hawaii Republican governor Linda Lingle.

Lingle, who notably spoke at the 2008 Republican National Convention and has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among numerous other national and local organizations, is expected by most observers to win her contested primary against former Hawaii Republican Party chairman and prior state legislator John Carroll.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono’s decision to run for Senate has left open Hawaii’s second congressional district which encompasses both Oahu and the outer islands. Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Afghanistan War veteran and Honolulu city councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, former Hill staffer Esther Kia’aina and local Big Island attorney Bob Marx are running for the open seat in the Democratic primary as well as two other candidates.

Gabbard – who is perhaps the fastest rising star in Hawaii politics – was also one of the youngest individuals to ever be elected to office when she formerly ran for Hawaii state representative. Gabbard, endorsed by VoteVets, EMILY’s List and the Sierra Club among others has seen a massive surge in support over the last two months and may win the Saturday primary by as many as thirty points.

According to the Cook Political Index, CD2 has a stunning “solid D” Partisan Voting Index of D+14 rating, which means that in the last election residents voted 14 points more Democratic than the rest of the nation. Nevertheless undeterred by statistics, Hawaii CD2’s Republican primary pits local conservative activist Kawika Crowley against retired U.S. Navy submarine officer Matthew DiGeronimo.

Running for re-election in Hawaii’s first congressional district which encompasses most of Honolulu’s urban areas is Democratic freshman congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa who in 2010 ousted Republican congressman Charles Djou who had earlier won through a special election created by the departure of Neil Abercrombie from the House of Representatives.

Hanabusa has but one other opponent in primary, Democrat Sky Wyttenbach. Republican Charles Djou, who is also a major in the Army Reserves, notably served in Afghanistan following his departure from Congress and is expected to win his primary against two other challengers, John Raghu Giuffre and Kauai Amsterdam.

Saturday’s election may also decide the future of Honolulu’s $5.3 billion dollar rail transit system as former Hawaii governor and anti-rail candidate Ben Cayetano challenges incumbent mayor Peter Carlisle and former City managing director Kirk Caldwell and one other candidate in a highly contentious non-partisan primary.  If any of the candidates secure more than 50% of the vote in the primary, they will win the office of Honolulu Mayor outright. Cayetano, who famously is the first person of Filipino-American ancestry to be elected to governor in the United States, enters the Saturday primary with a commanding double digit lead and is expected to finish in first place.

Hawaii’s state legislature races have also attracted star personalities, most notably former Miss Hawaii 2011 Lauren Cheape who is pursuing the office of state representative in State House District 45. Cheape, who is unopposed in her Republican primary, will face one of two Democrats – Jake Bradshaw or Ollie Lunasco – in the November general.


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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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