HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the race for Governor, Democrat David Ige bowed out of the first forum post primary.
Ige's last minute withdrawal was a "surprise" and "disappointment" to the host, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
The Democrat opted out in a letter last night over recording that "could be taken out of context" in a campaign season.
The organizer said every campaign agreed to terms and that it would have accommodated candidates to have all four parties represented.
"Yesterday we received word that the Democratic candidate would not participate" said Grassroot Institute President Dr. Keli'i Akina before the start of the forum.
Ige withdrew, citing concerns about recording of the event and use as the Grassroot Institute "saw fit."
Before the primary, Ige told Hawaii News Now debates were the best way for voters to compare candidates side by side.
In a one on one interview on August 1st, Ige said, "Nothing beats having candidates on the same forum answering the questions to get a head to head comparison."
Libertarian Jeff Davis welcomed the opportunity to get his views out, next to well known opponents, Republican Duke Aiona and Independent Mufi Hannemann.
Davis said, "It's a 4 way race and I'd like to address an elephant in this room. His name is David Ige."
The candidates clashed over the state of education. "I think we have to admit yes it is broken and it's time for change" said Davis.
Aiona responded, saying "If I am going to sit here and talk here about education and fixing the system, I want to know exactly how you're going to do it and when you're going to do it."
Hannemann said, "The voucher system perhaps provides another choice, but there are some questions that need to be addressed if we go there."
All three said they're open minded to amendments to the Jones Act that could bring down shipping costs and support a more competitive business climate with no GE tax hike.
In Aiona's view, "we get out of the way and let businesses turn an profit. What do small businesses do with the profit? They create jobs."
Hannemann restated desires to revive the Superferry, saying "I want to bring back the inter island ferry system. You can clap. You can reduce the cost of transportation."
Candidates also talked about improving the slow permitting process and bringing electricity costs down by boosting clean energy initiatives.
The candidates answered 10 questions during the forum on everything from transparency and the University of Hawaii to term limits.
Some central themes that emerged: Hannemann proposes collaborative leadership with a new council of county Mayors.
Aiona says two former judges on the Republican ticket can restore trust, and Davis pushes term limits and change.
Ige's campaign manager said "David looks forward to allowing voters to listen to each candidate's views in many more public and televised opportunities."
The Grassroot Institute website has posted communications about Ige's decision to withdraw from the forum.