Hawaii Gubernatorial Primary Recap

By Peter Brath

Incumbent Governor David Ige defeated U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii’s Democratic primary for governor on Saturday. Ige will now face Republican state House Minority Leader Andria Tupola, a race he’ll likely win.

Ige received 51.4 percent of the vote and won Oahu, the archipelago’s most populous island and home of Honolulu. Hanabusa, who resigned from her congressional seat to run for governor, received 44.4 percent of the vote and won the island of Hawaii, the largest in the archipelago. Ige suffered in earlier polls due to his mishandling of the false ballistic missile alarm earlier this year. The governor claimed he was unable to relay the information that it was a false alarm because he forgot his Twitter password. However, more recent polls had him ahead by margins similar to what he won with on Saturday. Some have credited his quick response to the Kilauea volcano eruption that occurred in May as a catalyst for his resurgence.

Under Ige, the state approved a policy that would transition all electricity produced in Hawaii to renewable energy sources and a commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Ige has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, especially in regards to the travel ban and his repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He also made early moves to tackle the homeless crisis by building and renovating state housing facilities.

Tupola won the GOP primary with a much larger margin, defeating former State Rep. and Senator John Carroll 55.5 to 35.2 percent. She will face steep odds in her attempt to become the second Republican governor in state history and break up the Democratic trifecta that’s held for eight years. Throughout the primary, Tupola stressed her community involvement and criticized Ige as being unresponsive to systemic problems, such as high living costs, a bad business environment and the homeless epidemic, among others.

Ige brought in over 124,000 votes, four times the 31,000 total votes cast for all three Republican candidates, and should have no problem winning in the general election. Both The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections have labeled this race as “Solid Democrat.”

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