Notable names among crowded candidate field eyeing Hawaii’s lieutenant governor’s race

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Published: Nov. 7, 2021 at 5:55 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2021 at 11:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The race to be Hawaii’s next lieutenant governor is still a year away, but it’s already attracting a crowded field.

Candidates include state Rep. and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and and her former state Senate counterpart, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda; and two former city Councilmembers: Ikaika Anderson and Ron Menor, who is also a former longtime state lawmaker.

Two business leaders, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara and former Hawaii High School Athletics Association Executive Director Keith Amemiya, who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, are also running.

“Really it’s probably anyone’s race but I think Tokuda, Anderson and Amemiya are likely to have the most name recognition,” said Hawaii News Now Political Analyst Colin Moore.

Moore, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii, said money will be a key in a crowded race like this.

“Money can be decisive because as we know a lot of these folks are known to people who follow politics, they’re not well known among average voters. So you need money to build name recognition,” he said.

Amemiya received nearly $2.4 million in donations for the 2020 mayoral race while Tokuda raised about $800,000 for the lieutenant governor’s race, state Campaign Spending Commission records show.

Moore said union endorsements will also play a critical role.

“For sure, Ikaika Anderson would benefit from union endorsements. He has close relationships with the unions already. Jill Tokuda for sure, Sylvia Luke — really any of them will benefit from this,” he said.

Amemiya also received the endorsements from some of the largest public employee unions in the mayor’s race: the Hawaii Government Employees and the United Public Workers Union. So getting those endorsements again will provide a huge boost.

“These crowded races can be really unpredictable,” said Moore.

“It really means your people have to turn (on election day). That ends up being really important.”

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