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Inouye to face off against Solomon for state Senate seat

Lorraine Inouye wants a rematch.

After losing narrowly to state Sen. Malama Solomon in the 2012 Democratic primary, Inouye of Paukaa is challenging her again for the 4th District post. The 4th District covers North Hawaii from Honolii Stream to Keahole Point.

Inouye, a former state senator and Hawaii County mayor, lost by 69 votes, an outcome that tied her for wins and losses against Solomon.

They faced off previously in the 1998 primary for the Senate’s 1st District seat, which covered largely the same territory at the time. Inouye won during that matchup, ousting Solomon who had been in the Senate since 1983.

Inouye, who won the general election, served the district until 2008.

“That election was a challenge,” she said, referring to the 2012 primary.

“We didn’t start campaigning until June” because of the reapportionment process.

The 4th District was created during the redrawing of district lines. The state’s reapportionment plan was challenged but upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in January.

The district was also given an initial two-year period in order to stagger senate elections. Senators typically serve four-year terms, and the district will again be on a four-year rotation after this election.

Inouye, president of the Aloha Blooms anthurium farm, said she is ready for a longer campaign this time.

“I’ve been campaigning already,” she said, “and hearing from people in the communities.”

Inouye, 73, left her campaign website online since the last election but said she made the decision to run last year.

Solomon, who returned to the Senate in 2010 to fill a vacancy, has an early fundraising advantage.

As of Dec. 31, she a campaign war chest of $52,936. Inouye had about $5,200 left over in cash on hand for her campaign.

Inouye said she believes voters are not satisfied with Solomon, and cited the senator’s support for the controversial Public Land Development Corporation and legislation critics say limits counties’ input on new geothermal projects.

“That’s something of an issue that has really upset people,” she said.

The PLDC was repealed last year.

Inouye also accused Solomon of doing a poor job communicating with constituents.

Solomon declined to provide a response to Inouye’s comments.

While both have years of experience in politics, Inouye said there is a “big difference in attitude and character” between the two.

“I think attitude plays a big role in being a representative of the district,” she said, while declining to elaborate.

Inouye also previously served on the Hawaii County Council. She was mayor from 1990-92 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor again in 2008.

As of Friday, Inouye and Solomon were the only candidates to have filed for the 4th District post.

The primary election is Aug. 9.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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