HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Governor Ben Cayetano spent a decade in retirement, but that hasn't hurt his political power. He has a nearly double-digit lead in the closely-watched race for Honolulu mayor, according to the new Hawaii Poll conducted by Ward Research for Hawaii News Now and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Cayetano, 72, has run for office eight times and has always won. With 28 years of political experience, he said he is ready to bring change to Honolulu Hale. 44% of Oahu voters surveyed favored the former governor. 35% chose current Mayor Peter Carlisle. Former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell picked up 16%.
"I felt kind of strange because in all of my statewide races, I've always been behind," said Cayetano.
"You have two options: running unopposed or scared," said Carlisle. "So you should always be scared and you should always be able to ramp up and give it 100% of your effort."
"You would expect them to have high name ID. I think you're going to see as my campaign rolls out, my name ID will go, too," said Caldwell.
Political columnist Richard Borreca was surprised Cayetano was so far ahead.
"There's been no publicity as far as him sponsoring television commercials or print or radio or anything like that, but it's a really up from the bootstraps campaign," said Borreca.
Cayetano had a strong showing among Filipinos and voters 55 and older in the poll. He is also picking up support from anti-rail voters by vowing to kill the pricey project. Since he is used to the underdog role, however, he is not letting his guard down.
"My being experienced as I am and knowing what it takes to come from behind, I'm going to tell them let's keep going. We're going to keep going until we reach that goal line," said Cayetano.
"I'm very hopeful that people realize that rail isn't the only issue, one, and number two, having a better future for future generations is critical now rather than later," Carlisle said.
"I feel very positive. It's going to be just like last time and we're going to be where we need to be on election day, and that's winning the election," said Caldwell.
"You're gonna have to have a little anti-Ben Cayetano campaign and a real big pro-rail campaign to push off track the Cayetano train which right now is moving ahead," predicted Borreca.