Caldwell to face off against Djou in November

VIDEO: Mayor Caldwell reacts to primary election results
Challenger Charles Djou (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Challenger Charles Djou (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Challenger Peter Carlisle (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Challenger Peter Carlisle (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell and challenger Charles Djou will face off in the general election, after neither garnered the majority needed to win the primary election outright on Saturday night.

Djou, a Republican, said he looks forward to continuing to share his message over the next several months, and build a "coalition of Democrats, and Republicans and independents."

"We're very excited about this campaign," he told Hawaii News Now. "We knew going into this we were going up against the incumbent mayor. That speaks volumes about the hard work of our volunteers."

For his part, Caldwell said he invited the challenge, and is "feeling very good" going into a general election run-off.

"I'm going to work really hard, and I hope that we get to talk about all the issues that are important to people on this island," he said. "As mayor, it's not just rail. It's about sewer and water and garbage pick-up, and making this one of the safest big cities in the country."

Meanwhile, the night ended early for former Mayor Peter Carlisle, who acknowledged about 8:30 p.m. that he had no chance of winning.

"Oh, it's finished. It's over," he told reporters. "The campaign was interesting. I did not want to be a typical politician."

A mayoral candidate needs to earn 50 percent plus one vote in the primary to win outright. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November.

Leading up to primary election day, Caldwell was trailing Djou in political polls, despite strong favorability ratings and a number of high-profile endorsements.

Throughout the election season, Caldwell has sought to defend his record as mayor, saying he's never shied away from tackling Oahu's major challenges and pointing to efforts to repave roadways and upgrade other critical infrastructure.

But Caldwell is also seeking a second term at a time when Oahu's rail project, the biggest public works endeavor in the state's history, is facing major cost overruns and delays.

Just four years ago, rail was the issue that helped get Caldwell elected as Honolulu's mayor. Voters chose the staunch rail advocate over his opponent, former Gov. Ben Cayetano, a vocal critic of the rail project.

This election year, rail is poised to once again play a pivotal role in who voters decide should head up Honolulu Hale. But as the rail project hits stumble after stumble, it's not quite clear that Caldwell will come out on top.

Djou and Carlisle offered differing viewpoints on how to tackle the project. But Caldwell, a former state representative and lawyer, is quick to point out that rail certainly isn't the only pressing issue facing Oahu.

If elected to a second term, Caldwell has pledged to redouble his efforts to address the island's homeless crisis and its dearth of affordable housing.

Djou, who announced his mayoral candidacy in June, entered primary election night with an edge in the polls.

A Hawaii News Now/Star-Advertiser poll released in July showed that 39 percent of likely voters supported Djou. Meanwhile, 30 percent said they would vote for Caldwell. Carlisle trailed the pack, with just 15 percent of likely voters saying they would vote for him.

After the poll was released, Djou said he was buoyed by the poll results, but wasn't taking anything for granted.

He added the strong numbers are a "reflection not of me, but my campaign team's hard work and more importantly about the community really saying that they want change."

Still, Caldwell continues to enjoy favorability ratings above 50 percent, the Hawaii poll found.

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