HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. David Ige won the Democratic primary in his bid for a second term in office Saturday, defeating U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who gave up her seat in Congress to run for governor.
Ige had a challenging first term amid a series of natural and man-made disasters, including a false missile alert that sent the state into a panic in January, a major embarrassment for his administration.
But the governor’s handling of Kilauea volcano’s latest eruption, which destroyed more than 700 homes and displaced thousands, as well as devastating flooding on Kauai got him back on track and he came out ahead of Hanabusa.
Ige campaigned on his efforts on providing more affordable housing and addressing the state’s homelessness problem. Hawaii has had the highest rate of homeless per capita in the nation for many years and is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.
Ige will face Hawaii state Rep. Andria Tupola, who won the Republican primary for governor, in November. Ige will likely get the job the general election. Hawaii has had only two Republican governors since it became a state and the vast majority of islands’ residents consistently vote blue. Tupola is the House minority leader and one of only five Republicans on the 51-member body. She defeated former state Sen. John Carrol and former Pearl Harbor nonprofit CEO Ray L’Heureux for the nomination in the GOP primary for governor.
Tupola said one of her primary focuses as governor would be to address affordable housing and to fight for Native Hawaiians to get the opportunity to use land set aside for them decades ago.
Tupola is a music teacher who formerly taught at a local community college. She was first elected to the state legislature in 2014.
The next governor will come to office with a lot of work ahead of them. Hawaii consistently ranks among the most expensive places in the country to live, has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation and struggles to build affordable housing for low-income workers.
The new governor will also face the aftermath of Kilauea volcano’s latest destructive eruption that began in May. More than 700 homes have been destroyed and thousands of people have been displaced by the lava flows, and most of those residents did not have insurance that would cover lava damage.
The volcano is also the most visited tourist site in the state, and the decline in visitors has caused a ripple effect throughout the local economy.
And despite better relations between the United States and North Korea, Hawaii is still a strategic military outpost in the Pacific that could be the target foreign military threats.