HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an embarrassing episode for the Republican Party in Hawaii, a philosophical gulf between Republican candidate for governor Andria Tupola and her running mate has now turned into a war of words.
Marissa Kerns, a Republican running for lieutenant governor, accused Tupola on Tuesday of “sabotaging” her campaign.
That’s after Kerns failed to appear at a televised debate Monday night.
Tupola and Kerns were set to square off against Gov. David Ige and state Sen. Josh Green, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
But Kerns never showed up, and contends Tupola failed to tell her about the debate.
“I called her right after the debate, Kerns said. “I told her, ‘How come? How are you going to fix this? You humiliated me.'”
Tupola disputes that, and told Hawaii News Now that all candidates had confirmed with the television station for the debate.
She also sought to minimize the divisions with Kerns, saying that her running mate is busy and is reaching communities that she can’t.
“In a statewide race ... we’re running at 20 million miles an hour,” Tupola said. “At this point in time, with seven days left, it’s super important for us to know that running this race together is something that we’re still working out.”
This isn’t the first time that Kerns has verbally sparred with Tupola in public.
In August, Kerns told Hawaii News Now that Tupola should apologize for her record in the state Legislature, adding that Tupola too often crossed party lines to vote with Democrats.
Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore says it’s disappointing that the GOP candidates can’t get along and that ultimately it’s the voters who lose out.
“I think the unfortunate thing is Andria Tupola is a very good candidate. The Hawaii Republican Party is weak, but they have a strong debater, a good communicator, she connects well with voters, but she becomes un-electable if her running mate won’t show up to the debate and then basically continues to attack her candidacy," Moore said.
"And that’s unfortunate because voters have less of a choice.”
Moore, the director of the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center, added that Hawaii should consider changing the way gubernatorial tickets are decided, allowing each candidate for governor pick their running mate.