Rafu Staff Report
HONOLULU — As a result of the Aug. 11 primary, Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Gov. Linda Lingle will once again face off in an election for a top political office in Hawaii.
In 2002, then-Lt. Gov. Hirono lost in the gubernatorial election to Lingle, who went on to serve two four-year terms as the state’s first female governor. Hirono was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
This time, the two are vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), who is retiring after 22 years in office.
In the Democratic primary, Hirono received 134,724 votes (56.8 percent) to former Rep. Ed Case’s 95,543 (40.3 percent). The other three Democratic candidates each got less than 1 percent of the vote. (Hirono also defeated Case in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor.)
Lingle won the Republican primary easily with 44,245 votes (90.2 percent), beating four opponents. Her closest competitor, John Carroll, received only 2,899 (5.9 percent).
“I believe in our Hawaii values – of taking care of our kupuna (elders) by keeping Social Security and Medicare strong – these are not programs to manage, but commitments we must keep to our seniors; by creating opportunities for our keiki, our children; and most importantly, by getting our economy going again to get our people back to work by creating jobs,” Hirono said in a statement.
“These will be my goals when fighting for our Hawaii o’hana (family) in the U.S. Senate. This is not the goal of the Republican Party — that goal is to elect Linda Lingle, who brings them one step closer to the four votes they need to take over the U.S. Senate.”
Hirono said that a Republican takeover would mean a repeal of Obamacare, permanent tax cuts for the wealthy, repeal of Wall Street reform, and attacks on women’s health.
Lingle’s campaign said in a statement, “People of Hawaii know well Gov. Linda Lingle has built her publicly elected career on the ability to work across political party lines to achieve successful solutions to the challenges we have faced together. Mazie Hirono, since being elected to Congress six years ago, has sponsored 49 bills, of which ZERO have become law: zero for working families, zero for our kupuna, zero for businesses. That just doesn’t add up for Hawaii. Linda Lingle has a career of working with both parties to stimulate job growth, promote quality education, and balance our budget.”
Either Hirono or Lingle would be Hawaii’s first female U.S. senator. Hirono would be the first Asian American woman in the Senate. Lingle would be the first Republican to represent Hawaii in the Senate since the late Hiram Fong, who served from 1959 to 1977.
In Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District (urban Oahu), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa won the Democratic nomination with 92,128 votes (76.4 percent). Her Republican opponent will be former Rep. Charles Djou, who won his primary with 25,982 votes (89.8 percent).
This will also be a rematch. In a 2010 special election, Djou won the seat vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie, who had resigned to run for governor. Then-State Sen. Hanabusa and Case split the Democratic vote and were defeated. But in the 2010 general election, Case did not run and Hanabusa unseated Djou.
“To all those who want to take our country backward, we say no,” Hanabusa said at a rally in Hilo on Aug. 10. “Because we are Democrats. We are proud. And we are ready to lead.”
She has dedicated her campaign to “the middle class that drives our economy, the seniors who have known their entire working lives that they would be able to count on Social Security and Medicare in their later years, and the young people who should be able to afford the education that will allow them to achieve excellence in their lives.”
“As a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, I am familiar with the challenges we face in protecting our nation,” said Djou, the first Thai American and first Chinese American Republican to serve in the House. “Like many of us, I believe in the America where hard work and determination create unlimited opportunity. If I am fortunate enough to earn your vote and serve you as your congressman, I will never forget that every dollar the government spends comes from a family like yours.”
Hirono was born in Fukushima and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. She is the first immigrant woman of Asian ancestry in Congress. Hanabusa is a Yonsei whose great-grandparents immigrated to Hawaii in the 1880s.
In the 2nd Congressional District (rural Oahu and the other islands), currently represented by Hirono, Honolulu City Councilmember Tulsi Gabbard defeated former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, 62,869 votes (54 percent) to 39,169 (33.6 percent), in the Democratic primary. She will run against the winner of the Republican primary, Kawika Crowley, who garnered 9,053 votes.
If elected, Gabbard will be the first Hindu member of Congress and Hawaii’s first House member of Samoan ancestry. She is a former state representative and her father, Mike Gabbard, is a Hawaii state senator.