HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Sen. Josh Green won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor on Saturday night, emerging as the top vote-getter in a crowded field of seasoned politicians.
Green secured about 30 percent of the votes, while state Sen. Jill Tokuda was in a close second place with 28 percent.
"For over a year, we've been working so hard to share what our vision is for Hawaii," Green told Hawaii News Now, after the early results.
Green will run in partnership with Gov. David Ige, who won the Democratic primary for governor on Saturday night.
Going into primary election night, Green had an edge in the polls.
The Big Island lawmaker and emergency room physician has also gotten considerable help from political action committees. One super PAC alone — construction union PAC "Be Change Now" — has spent more than $1 million on television commercials supporting Green.
The spending drew the concern of other contenders for the office, including from Carvalho.
"I'm totally surprised too by the amount of money coming this way," Carvalho said recently.
The ads are legal as long as the committee does not coordinate with the candidate it's promoting. And, says HNN political analyst Colin Moore, they could have proved very effective when voters have a long list of candidates to choose from.
"It's particularly effective in a crowded race like this where the candidates are unknown," he said. "This is the sort of race where money matters a lot because what money does buy, it buys you name recognition."
Also vying for the seat were former state Sen. Will Espero and former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto.
At the Hawaii News Now Super Debate last month, all the Democratic candidates were asked to help voters understand why they'd be the best pick for an office whose holder is best known for cutting ribbons and attending groundbreakings.
Green pointed to his hands-on experience "in the trenches," while Tokuda suggested giving the job more power if there are concerns that it doesn't have enough. Her suggestion: Make the lieutenant governor the chair of the Board of Education.
The position of lieutenant governor has often been characterized as a political stepping stone with little real power.
In addition to providing a successor if the governor can't serve, the lieutenant governor administers things like deeds, name changes and public notices.