HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in two years, a Republican will have a seat in Hawaii’s state Senate.
Kurt Fevella squeaked out a win in Ewa Beach, beating Democratic rival Matt LoPresti by just 117 votes.
It took 10 years and four attempts at running for office for the Republican to finally win.
“It was a long road and it was well worth it. Let me tell you this community is worth it,” said Fevella.
Fevella will replace Democrat Will Espero, who gave up the seat to run for lieutenant governor.
The Republican win in the longtime Democratic district marked an important shift for Hawaii’s GOP.
Fevella says he’s ready to be the only conservative state senator in the islands.
“I work well with my counterparts that’s going to be up at the Capitol. I’ve worked with them on other projects before as a volunteer,” said Fevella. “But now I’m going to be one of the senators to sit at the table and work with them and get things done for Ewa Beach.”
Fevella says he fought hard for a seat in the Senate and is excited to get to work. He plans to focus on schools and aging infrastructure. He also told HNN he’s willing to reach across the aisle if it’s what’s best for the community.
“The fact that he’ll be working with 24 democrats. I think it will be a great way for democrats to reach across the aisle too,” said the President of Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association Mufi Hannemann.
In Mililani, political newcomer Val Okimoto’s victory enabled Republicans in the state House to maintain their five-member causus.
Polictical analyst Colin Moore say Tuesday night’s wins are an opportunity for the GOP to build momentum going forward.
“I think that they need to continue to recruit good candidates,” said Moore. “Last night’s wins show that they do have a chance when they get quality candidates and they run disciplined campaigns.”
Moore added one of the Republican party’s biggest challenges is convincing qualified candidates to run for office if they think they’re going to lose.