Political musical chairs begin for Hawaii politicians - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Political musical chairs begin for Hawaii politicians

Kirk Caldwell Kirk Caldwell
Donovan Dela Cruz Donovan Dela Cruz
Rod Tam Rod Tam
Peter Carlisle Peter Carlisle
Panos Prevedouros Panos Prevedouros

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One political race sets off another. It's musical chairs for Hawaii politicians, now that Neil Abercrombie's old House seat has gone to Charles Djou.

Djou's seat in the council is up for grabs and as Mayor Mufi Hannemann goes for Governor Linda Lingle's seat, his corner office needs a new tenant.

And the runoff will be a winner-takes all election.

According to the City Charter, since Hanneman's leaving office with more than one year left in his term, voters must decide who will replace him.

Because of the timing, the mayoral election must happen on the same day of the either the primary on September 18th or the general election on November 2nd.

It's up to the city council to decide which of those days to hold the runoff. Either way, the election's coming up quickly and that means candidates don't have a lot of time to campaign...

Hawaii News Now political analyst Dan Boylan says everyone's at a disadvantage, but the people with name recognition might have a head start.

"I don't know see how anyone's gonna have a fair go at it, since the governor's race and congressional race is going to have so much national attention and our own attention, and it's going to dry up a whole lot of money," Boylan said.

Candidates will be taking every opportunity to get their names out, so they'll be recognizable on the ballot.

All of the top candidates are leaning heavily on their experience, whether it's being the top dog of the city's prosecuting office or an engineer with an appetite for fixing Honolulu's infrastructure.

It's a race for Honolulu's top seat.

But only one of them will actually have on-the-job experience when it comes time to vote.

By County Charter rules, Kirk Caldwell, the city's managing director will take over the mayor's seat until a replacement is voted upon.

"I'm going to have to have another opportunity to demonstrate to the people of this city and county that I am the right person and the only candidate who has the experience," he said. "No other candidate is going to have that opportunity."

That opportunity, which could be at least a couple months, might be a crucial advantage for Caldwell.

But most of his opponents believe it won't make a difference.

"I don't think that necessarily affects our campaign at all because our campaign is about getting out to people, about getting the message out that I'm the candidate that can get the city from point "A" to point "B," Mayoral candidate Donovan Dela Cruz said.

"My campaign has its direction of plan and we're going to move ahead and no matter who other candidates are running for mayor, we have our program," Mayoral candidate Rod Tam said. "My knowledge and experience goes back for 32 years from Neighborhood Board to House of Representatives, Senator and now Councilman."

"That's what the law is, it makes sense, you need somebody to step up and fill that role and that's what's basically written in the charter, as it should be," Mayoral candidate Peter Carlisle said. "The things I think people should focus on if they're considering me is that it's not going to be politics as usual."

Panos Prevedouros differs from the other candidates. He says Caldwell will essentially get a free pass in the process.

"Because for a couple of months, he'll get to call himself mayor, but the real thing will be played out in September or November, I wish there was a different way to do it but like I said, people will vote on the issues and who will be effective as a true mayor for two years, not a mayor for two months," he said.

It's not often that a race like this takes place. The last time was back in 1994, when Frank Fasi resigned to run for governor.

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