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Caldwell believes he could win governor’s race in 2022 despite soured public sentiment

Outgoing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell talks about wanting to becoming Governor.
Outgoing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell talks about wanting to becoming Governor.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jan. 1, 2021 at 4:30 PM HST
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(HONOLULU) - Walking through Honolulu Hale nearing the end of his second term, Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he wishes he could be mayor longer ― and, at 68-years-old, is looking toward his next political step.

“I will have a difficult run for governor, no doubt about it, but I again I think I can get the votes to win,” said Caldwell.

“I’m looking at it seriously. People will recognize that part of leadership is getting into the ring, taking the hits, not ducking, running away and making a difference and I think I have,” he added.

With the public sentiment soured because of the pandemic crisis, rail and other issues, does he have a chance?

“You sit two years out, it’s hard to say,” he said.

Caldwell says the darkest days during his eight year administration involved locking down Oahu the first time in March, knowing the severe consequences.

“I remember waking up at three in the morning in Manoa Valley and looking out over Oahu Avenue, no cars, no people and I realized how much pain this was going to cause people and I cried. I still get choked up, and we did protect and save lives,” said Caldwell, with tears in his eyes.

For many, 2020 was the year to forget ― while swearing and outbursts by the public became part of his outdoor press conferences.

“You fascist,” yelled one man from afar.

“He just called me a fascist. That’s a first,” said Caldwell, as he was beginning his last news conference on New Year’s Eve.

But Caldwell believes Oahu is better off today because of the city’s homeless initiatives, housing first, protected bikes lanes and climate change actions.

“I think if you look at the things we set out to do, we’ve done,” said Caldwell.

Come 2022, his likely gubernatorial opponent will be Lt. Governor Josh Green.

“As a medical doctor, he’s done a great job messaging that only an MD can do, and I think his reporting has been very helpful to the community,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell’s second term ends at noon Saturday. He says he’ll fish and perhaps teach at the law school, or write a book.

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