Political Radar

Hee's in

May 11th, 2014

State Sen. Clayton Hee announced on Sunday that he will challenge Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui in the Democratic primary.

The senator made the announcement at Iolani Palace, flanked by his wife, Lynne Waters, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, and Princess Abigail Kawananakoa.

"I believe that now is the right time for me," Hee said.

Hee told reporters that internal polls show him competitive against Tsutsui. Hee lost campaigns for lieutenant governor in 2002 and for Congress in 2006.

"You know, 10 years ago, I might have just done it just to do it," the senator, 61, said. "Ten years later, at my age, we want to be sure we know how deep the pool is before we jump in."

Hee is an old friend and political ally of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who is facing state Sen. David Ige in the primary. Tsutsui, who as Senate president had formed a leadership alliance with Ige, has endorsed Abercrombie.

Hee said he would support whichever Democrat emerges from the primary. "That's the horse that I ride," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to be. We're not supposed to pick and choose, but that's just how it is."

Elwin Ahu, a former state judge and senior pastor at New Hope Metro, is the leading Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Hee also endorsed former Rep. Gil Riviere to replace him in his Windward and North Shore Senate District. Riviere switched parties last year and became a Democrat, intending to seek his former House seat, which he lost to Rep. Richard Fale in the Republican primary in 2012.

Fale has announced that he will run for Senate. Former Rep. Colleen Meyer, who lost a close campaign to Hee in 2012, will also run in the GOP primary.

13 Responses to “Hee's in”

  1. Kolea:

    Wow. I thought Clayton was just messing with us by floating those rumors. This will takes some processing.

    WHile I really liked most of what Senator Hee has done in the Senate, I had assumed he would remain there. Shan Tsutsui may no be well-known, but virtually everybody who does know him likes him. Senator Hee is way smarter than me, but I would have assumed his instincts would tell him he will have trouble defeating Tsutsui, but would have easily beaten Fale. One piece of the puzzle I have not seen discussed is the anticipated senate leadership if Donna Kim is elected to the House. How likely would it be that Hee would have been able to retain both Labor and Judiciary in the new Senate line-up? I assume that was a factor in his decision.

    Gil Riviere in the Senate, Robert Harris in the old Jessica Wooley House seat, perhaps Kent Fonoimoana in the House seat Fale is leaving.... North Shore politics just became incredibly interesting. I look forward to watching how it plays out.

  2. Bulla:

    I don't believe that Hee would have 'easily beaten' Fale. Although a relative newcomer to the political arena, Fale has garnered a very supportive grass roots organization that is mobilizing the North Short in a way that has never been seen. I agree, it is becoming more and more interesting and should be worthy of observation.

  3. hossana:

    Just sick 'n tired of the same old political hacks running for office. These same old hacks know the people will vote for them which is the reason we get the same old faces and names of these politicos running for office. Nothing new. WHEN ARE THE PEOPLE GOING TO WAKEUP AND DEMAND NEW BLOOD IN THE POLITICAL ARENA OF OUR STATE???? and you wonder why voter turnout is so low. Its not getting people to register for vote. Its getting people to the polls and they will only go to the polls if there are interesting candidates and with the same old tired names running for office be it for the legislature or executive branch it just doesn't matter.

  4. kuleana:

    Clayton Hee would make an excellent Lt. Governor, and even a better Governor as former Governor Ben Cayetano stated earlier today. Clayton is the most balanced/experience in Hawaii's political structure as working with diverse organizations representing the "malama pono" factor. Whether it's animal, human and workers rights to preservation of areas in perpetuity Clayton sees the bigger picture and is unafraid of making mistakes and calling out his mistakes as he tries to make things pono for the keiki o' ka' aina. We are better for his commitment to envision a better Hawaii and strives to make it happen. Let us support him and make it happen.

  5. ohiaforest3400:

    Obviously, Clayton Hee has become a big picture guy, or at least has become more successful in getting them passed. And, perhaps, his penchant for petty personal politics will produce diminishing returns under new Senate leadership. Tsutsui is bland, unseasoned, and still unknown by most voters, having gotten the Senate Presidency almost by default when Hanabusa won the CD1 seat from Djou, and having been appointed to the LG seat after Schatz was appointed to the DKI Senate seat.

    If nothing else, Hee thinks he can take Tsutsui in a scrap, probably in both the literal and figurative sense, and is going all-in to prepare for a Governor run in 2018. If he fails, I hafta think he'll find no landing place in the administration of a re-elected Abercrombie or even a new Governor Ige.

    Maybe this is one instance in which Neil's prodigious record of appointing elected officials to vacancies, and then also appointing their replacements, will blow up in his face. Funny what can happen when the "people" decide.

  6. kamaaina808:

    Name recognition is a big one in Hawaii, and a politician either has to have big money or repeated campaigns for his name to stick in people's heads enough for them to vote for him. Hee already has name recognition, but from what I'm reading (broken trust?), that could backfire on him.

  7. Pay to play is the game:

    Abercrombie/Hee? It's beginning to sounds like the making of an Ariyoshi/Waihee ticket all over again.

    Only this time, Hee won't have "millions" to kick around since Abercrombie will have taken it all.

  8. hipoli:

    Win or lose the LG this round, Hee will be positioned for the next round for the Gov race. Hee has grown, matured, maybe even figured out how to live in his own skin comfortably - and it shows in his policy-making and leadership skills which have similarly evolved.

  9. Chicken Grease:

    OK. [oh. A Grease is voting for Hee, by the way. Disagreed with him on a # of issues, but, a Grease thinks this run a great fit for him.]

    Probable Voter 1: "Did you hear?"
    Probable Voter 2: "Hear what?"
    Probable Voter 1: "Not 'what'; 'Hee'".
    Probable Voter 2: "He Who?"
    Probable Voter 1: "Hey, man. Don't make fun. Don't be a Sterling."
    Probable Voter 2: "A 'who'?"
    Probable Voter 1: "I said don't make fun. The 'who' is Hee."
    Probable Voter 2: "Who's 'He'?"
    Probable Voter 1: "Hee is running for Lt. Governor."
    Probable Voter 2: "What's his name?!?"
    Probable Voter 1: "Hee!"
    Probable Voter 2: "WHO is running for Lt. Governor!"
    Probable Voter 1: "I just told you: HEE is running for Lt. Governor!!!!" [enter laugh trax here]
    Probable Voter 2: "Man! Which 'he' are you talking about? THAT guy [points to man on street]???? THAT guy [points to man driving car]?????
    Probable Voter 1: "Dude!!!! NEITHER of those guys are Hee."
    Probable Voter 2: "WRONG! They're guys! Males!" [insert laugh trax]
    Probable Voter 1: "But, they're not Hee!" [insert laugh trax]
    Probable Voter 2: "MAN, just TELL me who's running for Lt. Governor!:
    Probable Voter 1: "I'm trying to tell you that HEE is running. For. Lt. Governor!"


    The end.

  10. TKeiko:

    With Hee running for LG, there will definitely be two, and maybe three new senators in the upcoming session. Leadership is up for grabs whether Donna Kim wins in CD1 or not. While just about every senator thinks he or she has a chance (yeah, even Espero and Dela Cruz) the early advantage is with Jill Tokuda or Ron Kouchi.

    I hope it's Tokuda.

  11. Especially Incognito:

    Maybe the seven dwarfs should run....

  12. Especially Incognito:

    "Who's on First?"

  13. Robert:

    I wonder how much the redrawing of Hee's district which I think makes it much more conservative influenced Hee's decision. Did he decide that if he is going to be in a tough race, i might as well be a tough race for higher office?

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