Political Radar

The Rundown (final primary)

August 8th, 2014

We have updated our rundown of potentially competitive state House and Senate races with summaries from the final state campaign-finance reports before the primary on Saturday. We will reassess the lineup after the primary and again in the weeks before the November general election.

Overview: Hawaii politics is in transition in the wake of the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and the retirement of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. The churn at the top has caused political uncertainty that may take several election cycles to settle. Gov. Neil Abercrombie, despite the state’s economic recovery and a $5 million war chest, is not assured of re-election given voter unease about his leadership. Majority Democrats are certain to keep control of the state House and Senate, but the leadership lineup in both chambers will likely change after the elections. Republicans are overdue to correct some of the political imbalance at the Legislature. But many of the GOP’s prospects are religious conservatives who were motivated to run by last year’s special session on gay marriage, a trend that could alienate moderate voters the party needs to compete.

State Senate
Democrats: 24
Republicans: 1

State House
Democrats: 44
Republicans: 7

State Senate

*SD4 (Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo)
Sen. Malama Solomon (D)
(For the cycle: $156,351)
Lorraine Inouye (D)
(For the cycle: $55,214 Loans: $20,000; $76,000 total from previous campaigns)
Alain Schiller (L)
Outlook: Democratic. Solomon held off Inouye, a former state senator and mayor, by 69 votes in the primary in 2012. Solomon is the chairwoman of the Senate Water and Land Committee and a passionate voice on Native Hawaiian issues. But she can be a polarizing figure in the Senate and has upset progressives on development, geothermal, GMO and environmental issues. A large slice of Inouye's campaign money is from a May loan.

*SD6 (West Maui-South Maui)
Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D)
(For the cycle: $210,813)
Terez Amato (D)
(For the cycle: $34,976 Loans: $147)
Jared “Pika” Dubois (R)
(For the cycle: $21)
Bronson Kaahui (L)
(For the cycle: $25 Loans: $25)
Outlook: Democratic. Baker is the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee and one of the more substantive senators when it comes to policy. Yet she has angered the growing anti-GMO movement by blocking labeling bills and has drawn a primary challenge from Amato, an environmentalist. With an initiative on the November ballot that will ask voters whether to place a moratorium on GMOs on Maui, the issue may have some resonance in the primary.

*SD18 (Mililani-Waikele-Kunia)
Sen. Michelle Kidani (D)
(For the cycle: $224,223 Loans: $281)
Dennis Kim (R)
(For the cycle: $14,085)
Raymond Banda III (L)
(For the cycle: $625)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Kidani is the vice chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and oversees the state construction spending outlay. She turned back a primary challenge from former state Rep. Michael Magaoay and easily won re-election in 2012. But this is one of the races where gay marriage could be an undercurrent. Kim, an insurance agent and estate planner, has served as the public affairs director for the Mormon church in Hawaii.

*SD21 (Kalaeloa-Waianae-Makaha)
Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D)
(For the cycle: $69,846)
Michael Kahikina (D)
(For the cycle: $250)
Tercia Ku (R)
(For the cycle: $625)
Johnnie-Mae Perry (R)
(For the cycle: $983)
Randy Roman (R)
(For the cycle: $1,116)
Ruth Brown (N)
(For the cycle: $1,183 Loans: $1,167)
Outlook: Democratic. Shimabukuro is the chairwoman of the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee and had some legislative successes last session on bills related to child abuse and sexual assault. Kahikina is a former state representative and ordained minister who has been active in Leeward community affairs. Kahikina has not been aggressively fundraising.

*SD23 (Heeia-Laie-Waialua)
Rep. Richard Fale (R)
(For the cycle: $78,101)
Colleen Meyer (R)
(For the cycle: $44,883 Loans: $17,175; $77,179 in total from previous campaigns)
Norman Brown (R)
(For the cycle: $632)
Gil Riviere (D)
(For the cycle: $41,235)
Outlook: Open seat. Tossup. Sen. Clayton Hee’s decision to run for lieutenant governor has thrown the political control of this sprawling Windward and North Shore district into uncertainty. Fale, a Mormon who opposes gay marriage, had prepared to take on Hee, one of the sponsors of marriage equality. But the dynamics have shifted with Hee no longer the target in the general election. Meyer, who narrowly lost to Hee in 2012, is a fiscal and social conservative who represented a portion of the district in the House for 14 years. Riviere, who switched parties and became a Democrat after losing to Fale in a House GOP primary in 2012, is hoping the environment and land conservation trump social issues.

State House

*HD4 (Hawaiian Acres- Pahoa-Kalapana)
Rep. Faye Hanohano (D)
(For the cycle: $9,815)
Joy San Buenaventura (D)
(For the cycle: $18,666 Loans: $5,000)
Leilani Bronson-Crelly (D)
(For the cycle: $7,802 Loans: $1,500)
Julia Peleiholani (D)
(For the cycle: $2,725)
Brian Jordan (D)
(For the cycle: $207)
Gary Thomas (R)
(For the cycle: $4,775 Loans: $2,000)
Outlook: Democratic. House leaders scolded Hanohano, the chairwoman of the House Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, after she was accused for a second time of racially discriminatory and inappropriate conduct. Hanohano insists that her actions have been mischaracterized and she has her defenders in a Puna-based district suspicious of Oahu-centric political attitudes. She has drawn four primary opponents, including San Buenaventura, an attorney. In such a crowded field, however, name recognition could work in Hanohano’s favor.

*HD6 (Holualoa, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau)
Rep. Nicole Lowen (D)
(For the cycle: $46,352 Loans: $3,000; $8,500 in total from previous campaign)
Kalei Akaka (D)
(For the cycle: $27,114)
Kelly Valenzuela (R)
(For the cycle: $14,270)
Roy Ebert (R)
(For the cycle: $50)
Outlook. Tossup. Lowen, a freshman, edged Akaka, the granddaughter of retired U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, by 45 votes in the primary in 2012. Lowen has the fundraising advantage in the rematch. Valenzuela, the daughter of the late state lawmaker Wilfred “Buddy” Soares, is among the crop of candidates motivated to run by the special session on gay marriage. The west side district is potentially competitive for Republicans.

*HD9 (Kahului-Wailuku-Puunene)
Rep. Justin Woodson (D)
(For the cycle: $34,047)
James “Kimo” Apana (D)
(For the cycle: $22,403)
Outlook: Democratic. Woodson was appointed last year by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill a House vacancy and is facing primary voters for the first time. Apana is a former Maui mayor.

*HD15 (Wailua-Hanamaulu-Lihue)
Rep. James Tokioka (D)
(For the cycle: $80,977 Loans: $7,500 from previous campaigns)
Dylan Hooser (D)
(For the cycle: $26,222)
Steve Yoder (R)
(For the cycle: $12,091 Loans: $5,988)
Outlook: Democratic. Tokioka has strong ties to the political establishment on the Garden Island, but he lost influence in the House after the leadership shakeup last year that brought House Speaker Joseph Souki, dissident Democrats and Republicans to power. Hooser, the son of Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser, is attempting to tap into the growing anti-GMO movement.

HD22 (Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako)
Rep. Tom Brower (D)
(For the cycle: $15,144 Loans: $11,674 from previous campaigns)
Janet Grace (R)
(For the cycle: $18,909)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Brower, the chairman of the House Tourism Committee, gained attention last year – some of it unwanted – for taking a sledgehammer to stolen shopping carts once used by the homeless. Grace, a former executive director of Hawaii Right to Life who works in home health care, is among the candidates being touted by religious conservatives. She has passed Brower in fundraising.

*HD23 (Manoa-Punahou-Moiliili)
Rep. Isaac Choy (D)
(For the cycle: $87,989)
Nathaniel Kinney (D)
(For the cycle: $48,768 Loans: $22,000)
Outlook: Democratic. Choy, the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, is an accountant often called upon by lawmakers to share his expertise on finance issues. Kinney, an insurance executive, is a former aide to Mayor Kirk Caldwell and a director for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 50. He lost a special election for City Council in 2009. Choy has the fundraising advantage.

*HD27 (Nuuanu-Liliha-Alewa Heights)
Rep. Takashi Ohno (D)
(For the cycle: $46,048)
Max Fowler (R)
(For the cycle: $48,527)
Outlook: Tossup. Ohno, a freshman, defeated longtime Republican state Rep. Corinne Ching in 2012 when President Barack Obama’s presence on the ballot helped lift Democratic contenders. Fowler, an associate pastor at Kakaako Christian Fellowship motivated to run after the gay marriage debate, could be formidable. He has already eclipsed the incumbent in fundraising and has attracted national Republican attention.

*HD28 (Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley)
House Vice Speaker John Mizuno (D)
(For the cycle: $35,674)
Carole Kaapu (R)
(For the cycle: $14,452 Loans: $3,922)
Outlook: Democratic. Mizuno comfortably defeated Kaapu in 2012. The vice speaker, a Christian, has been active in the faith-based community in his district, but his decision to change his position and support marriage equality disappointed some fellow Christians.

*HD33 (Halawa-Aiea-Newtown)
Arnold Wong (D)
(For the cycle: $54,055 Loans: $10,000)
Sam Kong (D)
Tracy Arakaki (D)
(For the cycle: $6,380 Loans: $4,000)
Robert Helsham (R)
(For the cycle: $12,311)
Outlook: Open. Leans Democratic. Rep. K. Mark Takai’s decision to run for Congress created an open seat. Wong works for the Ironworkers union. Kong, a florist, lost two House campaigns as a Republican before switching parties to run as a Democrat. Helsham, a consultant, athletic director at Christian Academy, and worship minister at First Assembly of God Red Hill, is among the candidates backed by religious conservatives in the wake of the gay marriage debate.

*HD36 (Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres)
Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang (R)
(For the cycle: $50,610 Loans: $81)
Marilyn Lee (D)
(For the cycle: $36,543 Loans: $5,000)
Luella Costales (D)
(For the cycle: $13,435)
Outlook: Leans Republican. Fukumoto, a freshman, is one of the GOP’s emerging young leaders. Lee, a former state representative who lost to Fukumoto in 2012, is seeking a rematch. But Costales, who serves on the neighborhood board and the city police commission, could present a hurdle for Lee in the primary. The district’s shifting suburban demographics make it a bellwether.

*HD38 (Waipahu)
Rep. Henry Aquino (D)
(For the cycle: $54,205)
Alex Sonson (D)
(For the cycle: $27,637 Loans: $19,216; $28,248 in total from previous campaigns)
Outlook: Democratic. Aquino is the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee. Sonson, an attorney and former state lawmaker, lost state Senate primary challenges to Sen. Clarence Nishihara in 2012 and 2008.

*HD41 (Ewa Beach-West Loch Estates)
Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D)
(For the cycle: $19,619 Loans: $2,499 from previous campaigns)
Matt LoPresti (D)
(For the cycle: $15,316)
Steve Wiggins (R)
(For the cycle: $4,905)
Bryan Jeremiah (R)
(For the cycle: $1,650)
Tom Berg (L)
(For the cycle: -$4,968 Loans: $21,551 from previous campaigns)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Cabanilla, the House majority floor leader, has held off several challenges since she first claimed the district in 2004, but rarely without drama. LoPresti, a Hawaii Pacific University philosophy professor who lost to Cabanilla in the primary in 2012, has secured several labor, environmental and progressive endorsements. Berg, a former city councilman who used to work for Cabanilla and twice unsuccessfully challenged her as a Republican, is running as a Libertarian.

*HD42 (Kapolei-Makakilo)
Rep. Sharon Har (D)
(For the cycle: $75,290)
Nicole Ferguson (D)
(For the cycle: $14,200)
Michael Golojuch (D)
(For the cycle: $10,397)
Suk Moses (R)
(For the cycle: $1,904 Loans: $574)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Har, the vice chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been targeted by gay rights and progressive activists for her vote against marriage equality and the perception she is too conservative. Ferguson, who teaches environmental biology at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu, just moved to the west side within the past year. Golojuch has led the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus. A three-way primary favors Har, who has the fundraising advantage. Moses is the wife of former state Rep. Mark Moses, the Republican Har defeated when she claimed the swing district in 2006.

*HD43 (Kalaleloa-Ko Olina-Maili)
Rep. Karen Awana (D)
(For the cycle: $14,781 Loans: $508)
Stacelynn Eli (D)
(For the cycle: $20,912)
Andria Tupola (R)
(For the cycle: $22,546)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Awana resigned her post as House majority floor leader last year after her fourth fine for campaign-finance violations, which could make her vulnerable. Eli, who has worked at a home improvement store, has outraised Awana in the primary. Tupola, a music educator and Mormon who helped organize neighborhood protests against the special session on gay marriage, is among the GOP’s best young prospects.

*HD45 (Mililani-Schofield-Kunia)
Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto (R)
(For the cycle: $33,434)
Michael Magaoay (D)
(For the cycle: $13,846)
Outlook: Leans Republican. Matsumoto, a former Miss Hawaii, is a freshman with family roots in both the Mililani and Waialua portions of the district. Magaoay is a former state lawmaker attempting a comeback after two unsuccessful campaigns for state Senate.

*HD 47 (Waialua-Kahuku-Waiahole)
Kent Fonoimoana (D)
(For the cycle: $15,827 Loans: $4,000)
Feki Pouha (R)
(For the cycle: $13,787 Loans: $360)
Outlook. Open. Tossup. Rep. Richard Fale’s decision to run for state Senate has created an opening for Democrats to reclaim the North Shore and Windward district. Former state Rep. Gil Riviere, who had lost to Fale in the House GOP primary in 2012, switched parties and became a Democrat with a rematch with Fale in mind. But with Riviere also now running for Senate, the race is wide open. Fonoimoana serves on the neighborhood board. Pouha, who has a personal finance business, is an ally of Fale’s who could compete if gay marriage becomes a driving issue with voters.

*HD48 (Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe)
Robert Harris (D)
(For the cycle: $50,299 Loans: $10,000)
Jarrett Keohokalole (D)
(For the cycle: $46,723 Loans: $2,209)
Eldean Kukahiko (R)
(For the cycle: $9,551)
Kaimanu Takayama (L)
Kana Naipo (N)
(For the cycle: $3,048)
Outlook. Open. Leans Democratic. Rep. Jessica Wooley’s appointment to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control created an open seat. Harris is the director of the Sierra Club Hawaii. Keohokalole works on invasive species issues for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Both Democrats have had impressive fundraising performances. Kukahiko, a retired police officer and a senior pastor at Hope Chapel Kahaluu, is among the candidates motivated by the gay marriage debate.

*HD50 (Kailua-Kaneohe)
Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R)
(For the cycle: $91,197)
Joan Hood (R)
(For the cycle: $19,225)
Holly Broman (D)
(For the cycle: $250)
Outlook. Republican. Thielen, a leading voice on environmental and energy issues, is the only Republican in the Legislature who voted for marriage equality. Hood is an apostle for Pacific Realm-International Pentecostal Holiness Church. The primary could provide insight into whether gay marriage will become a significant campaign issue this year.

*HD51 (Kailua-Lanikai-Waimanalo)
Rep. Chris Lee (D)
(For the cycle: $41,091)
Wayne Hikida (R)
(For the cycle: $34,221)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Lee was the most visible House Democrat in the drive for marriage equality. Hikida is a retired insurance executive and former Mormon bishop influenced to run by the gay marriage debate. Hikida has had a strong fundraising performance.

3 Responses to “The Rundown (final primary)”

  1. Teddy Freddy:

    Where is the speculation? What races in the Senate/House are "in play" if any?

  2. Chicken Grease:

    Think Abercrombie's getting points for being on the air regularly today.

    And that means VOTES.

    Attorney General David Louie has just announced 5;05pm to 5:15pm; source KHON2 live press conference) that two affected -- by today's unique weather -- areas on the Big Island have had their voting precincts also affected and VOTING WILL BE POSTPONED FOR THESE BIG ISLAND AREAS. Per Louie absentee ballots will be issued for registered voters in these two (2) affected areas. The Hawaii State Attorney General's office is working with the State Office of Elections to print these absentee ballots/allow voters in these affected areas to vote.

    Reporting/voting results -- on election night -- for the other/majority of voting precincts in Hawaii will go on as planned, per Louie.

    Believe it was Keoki Kerr at that press conference who asked Louie how many voters are included in those two affected/Big Island/voting postponed/absentee ballots to be issued. Louie did not have those numbers at the time of the press conference just now.

    A Grease's comment: can you say "Hawaii primary voting results (where Big Island voting #s make a difference) potentially challenged in court?"

  3. Kolea:

    Over all, a very impressive and informative over view. Thak you, Derrick!

    Let me partially disagree on HD 50, the Kailua district now held by Cynthia Thielen. You say it "Leans Republican." I think it is more complicated than that assessment suggests.

    Pastor Joan Hood is hoping most Kailua voters take a Democratic ballot so they can have a say in the contest between Abercrombie v. Ige or Schatz v. Hanabusa. Should that happen, the Republican primary will be deserted, making it easy picking for the disciplined cadre mobilized through the conservative fundamentalist churches .

    The Christian fundamentalists are a small minority of Kailua voters. There is no wY Hood could beat Thielen is a fair contest. But the peculiarities of the primary system might allow them to accomplish what they could never accomplish if all Kailua residents were to weigh in.

    So Hood might defeat Thirlen in the primary. But if Thielen rebuffs Hood, there is no "Leans Republican " about it. Thielen would easily defeat the Democrat in the General . But if Hood, taking advantage if the special conditions of a deserted primary, defeats Thielem, Hood will be stomped in the General Election by Democrat Holly Bran.

    Neither scenario can be described as "Leans Republican." If Thielen is the Republican, she wins, decisively. If Hood is the GOP nominee, she loses, almost as decisively. Neither scenario is "Leans Republican."

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