Honolulu's mayor, Hawaii's members of Congress may face no re-election opposition

Honolulu's mayor, Hawaii's members of Congress may face no re-election opposition

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With only a little more than two months to go before this year's filing deadline for political candidates, no well-known challengers have emerged yet to run against Honolulu's mayor and Hawaii's Congressional delegation.

June 7 is the deadline for politicians to file their nomination papers to run for office.

UH Manoa Political Science Professor Colin Moore, a Hawaii News Now political analyst, said that "it's troubling that incumbents here can so easily keep their seats. Why? Because scared politicians are responsive politicians."

Moore said incumbents tend to raise more money and have better name recognition than their potential challengers, making it difficult to oppose someone who's already in office.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell had $1.6 million in campaign funds at the end of last year, more than three times as much as Council Chairman Ernie Martin who is considering a run for mayor.

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who told Hawaii News Now he's decided whether to run for mayor but is not ready to go public, had just $18,871 in campaign funds as of late 2015.

Former Mayor Peter Carlisle, who has no money in his campaign account, said this when asked if he will run for mayor: "I would say that I'm leaning towards it but I would necessarily have to include my wife and children in the equation and they may have a veto."

Carlisle claimed even challengers with very little money have a chance.

"I don't think it's insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination. I honestly think that people are looking for sort of anti status-quo people," Carlisle said.

Hawaii's Democratic Congressional incumbents up for election this year have no major candidates running against them yet and money may also be an obstacle for their potential challengers.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz listed $2.6 million in campaign funds at last report, while U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard had $1.5 million and U.S. Rep. Mark Takai reported $499,124.

Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a Republican, has just $6,284 in his campaign account.

Djou said that he's "not actively planning any campaign for myself right now, but I'm not ruling anything out."

Moore said raising money is an important tactic for most incumbents.

"You scare off your potential opposition because they don't think they can raise that kind of money, they don't think they can mount a credible campaign."

"It looks like a lot of the incumbents will just be re-elected unchallenged," Moore added. "If the incumbent hasn't done anything to really anger the voters, it's very difficult (for a challenger) to win. And it's even more difficult in a state like ours which is dominated by one party the Democratic Party."

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