ELECTION 2014: 32 set to vie for open state positions
Thirty-two candidates are seeking to represent Big Island residents at the state Capitol.
Ten of the isle’s 11 state House and Senate seats will be on the Aug. 9 primary ballot, with all but one contested. The filing period ended Tuesday.
Rep. Cindy Evans, Kohala, North Kona, will be the sole incumbent not to face a challenger.
Senate District 2, represented by Russell Ruderman of Puna, is the only district not on the ballot this year.
Many candidates will have familiar names, with incumbents past and present and several perennial challengers throwing their hats in the ring.
One race is a rematch. In Senate District 4, covering North Hawaii, former Hawaii County mayor and state Sen. Lorraine Inouye is challenging incumbent Malama Solomon for the Democratic nomination. She lost by 69 votes to Solomon in 2012.
Another candidate, Alain Schiller, is running as a Libertarian.
Voters in House District 5, however, will have close to a clean slate to choose from, with incumbent Richard Creagan of Naalehu seeking election after being appointed to replace Rep. Denny Coffman in January.
The most crowded race will be for Puna’s House District 4. Seven candidates, including incumbent Faye Hanohano, filed to run by the deadline.
Hanohano, a Democrat, has represented the district since 2007. She faced two nonpartisan challengers in the 2012 primary. Since then, she has faced criticism and plenty of media attention for controversial statements, including racial remarks made earlier this year and in 2013. That resulted in a reprimand from House Speaker Joseph Souki.
The controversy appears to have made her more vulnerable.
“This year, they look at Hanohano as an open door,” said Julia Peleiholani, a Democratic candidate who worked as Hanohano’s office manager from December 2011 until September 2013. “Everybody wants to run.”
While she said the controversy didn’t spur her to run, Peleiholani said she disagreed with some of the comments Hanohano made, including racial remarks the representative said in 2012 regarding artwork by non-Hawaiians that was put in her office at the Capitol.
“I could feel her; I know what she was talking about,” she said. “I know we are frustrated as Native Hawaiians.”
Peleiholani added, “We cannot go out lashing and bashing.”
Other candidates interviewed also touched on the issue.
“People can get upset with Faye Hanohano’s remarks, and they should,” said Democratic candidate Brian Jordan, who cited the controversy as a reason for running this year. He previously ran for the seat in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
“And there is a basis for her anger,” Jordan acknowledged.
Joy Sanbuenaventura said the comments “alienated a lot of people.”
The Democratic candidate said the controversy is not why she is running but noted the issue is on the minds of voters.
“It basically fuels my supporters,” she said.
Hanohano did not return requests for comment left on her cellphone and with her staff.
In addition to Democrats, five candidates in the Big Island House and Senate races are running as Republicans. The Libertarian Party has six candidates.
Isle voters will also get to select nine County Council members this year, as well as have a say in picking a governor, lieutenant governor, Office of Hawaiian Affairs at large position, and representatives in the U.S. House and Senate.
In the U.S. Senate race, nine candidates are seeking to replace Brian Schatz, appointed to replace the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. His biggest rival is Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who was Inouye’s pick for the position.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who appointed Schatz, is seeking re-election. Eleven candidates, including state Sen. David Ige and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, are seeking to replace him.
Nine candidates filed to run for lieutenant governor, including incumbent Democrat Shan Tsutsui.
Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is running for re-election in the U.S. House District 2 race. The district includes the neighbor islands and rural Oahu. She faces three challengers.
There are 16 candidates in the OHA at-large election.
July 10 is the deadline to register to vote for the primary.
For more information, visit hawaii.gov/elections.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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