Hawaii voters could shake up political landscape in the 2022 elections

Gov. David Ige has reached his two-term limit. Lt. Gov. Josh Green is running for his job.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 9:14 PM HST|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 10:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige has reached his two-term limit. Lt. Gov. Josh Green is running for his job.

But following lockdowns, restrictions and scandals, Hawaii’s voters have the potential to shake up the political landscape.

Because of redistricting, all 76 seats in the state legislature will be on the ballot.

Lawmakers can point to accomplishments in the session that’s ending Thursday, including major funding for Hawaiian Home Lands and an increase in the minimum wage.

“There’s a lot of goodies for incumbents to take to the public,” said former Governor John Waihee. “At the same time, there’s enough of a desire on behalf of the electorate to have some change.”

Waihee believes this is one of the most exciting and important elections in decades. He also believes candidates will face more scrutiny over the government’s COVID response and other issues.

“What do you think about abortion? That question has never been asked for at least 40 years. But it’s gonna be asked now,” he said.

“We have a lot of people in the community who talk about government control, or ‘What has the legislature or elected officials done for us recently?’ And how are we dealing with some of the most difficult economic times that we’ve faced in a long time,” said Hawaii Republican Party Chair Lynn Finnegan.

Following the bribery scandal involving longtime state lawmakers Sen. J. Kalani English and Rep. Ty Cullen, some say this could be an opportunity to push Hawaii in a new direction politically.

“We’ve had real scandal and corruption and issues come to the surface that, quite frankly, have been very embarrassing for Hawaii,” said political consultant Trish Kehaulani Watson.

This is also a big opportunity for Republicans, with a popular name like B.J. Penn on the ballot for governor.

There are many votes to be claimed in that race, especially after former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced he was not going to run.

“I don’t think he’s likely done,” said HNN Political Analyst Colin Moore. “I think there might be another opportunity for him to run, perhaps for Congress.”

Congressman Kai Kahele still hasn’t made an official announcement, but multiple sources say he’s leaving D.C. to run for governor.

One more change is ahead — this will be the first governor’s race with voting by mail.

“We had record turnout last time when we moved to all-mail voting,” said Watson. “So the hope is that people will be a little more familiar with it now, they’ll be more comfortable with it.”

Watson also noted that potential candidates are running out of time. The deadline to file is June 7, just a little over a month away.

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