Honolulu’s mayoral candidates throw out the old playbook to campaign during a pandemic

Political newcomer, longtime politician take early leads in mayoral race

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The primary election is just around the corners, but political analysts say the election is the farthest thing from many people’s minds.

The crisis means candidates for Honolulu mayor have had to change their entire operations without the traditional events and fundraisers, handshakes and babies to kiss.

The political signs without sign waving are a sign of the times.

Gone, too, are the long lines of volunteers and pounding the pavement.

“People may be reacting very negatively if you decided to go out and sign wave,” said former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for mayor.

"You just want to get the word out there, but not at people's expense," she added.

The pandemic forced the candidates to pivot from pressing the flesh to meetings and forums online.

[Read more: Civil Beat-HNN poll: Political newcomer, longtime politician take early leads in mayoral race]

“I never heard of Zoom calls before I started doing this so we are doing a lot of Zoom calls. We are reaching out. We are writing notes, sending emails,” said former Hawaii News Now General Manager and TV executive Rick Blangiardi.

One of the only ways to get out and see people is through community service, delivering meals and food drives.

"Who cares about campaigning during this time and who cares about any poll that was taken when people were suffering," said Honolulu City Councilwoman Kym Pine.

"All the candidate are faced with these restrictions and so you just have to adapt be innovative, be creative and do what we can," said former business executive Keith Amemiya.

While the latest poll shows political preferences for mayor, 42% said none of above or were undecided.

People haven't thought about this for obvious reasons. There's other things going on right now," said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

The deadline to join the race is next Tuesday. It’s a chance for last minute candidates which is stirring speculation in political circles that former Mayor Mufi Hannemann or others could jump in.

“There is talk and 42% is pretty much up for grabs so it’s got to be tempting,” said Chad Blair, of Civil Beat.

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