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US Rep. Kai Kahele announces ‘grassroots’ campaign for governor

Less than two years after being elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele announced Saturday that he is launching a campaign for governor.
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 3:25 PM HST|Updated: May. 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than two years after being elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele announced Saturday that he is launching a campaign for governor.

Kahele made the announcement in his hometown of Hilo.

“And so today, I have one clear message for those who think they can buy our government, Hawaii is not for sale,” Kahele said.

Kahele pledged a “grassroots” campaign, saying he will not accept any donations over $100 nor money from corporations, unions or a political action committee.

“I’m running for governor because this election up until today is being owned and controlled by big money, lobbyists, cynics, special interest, and corporations, wealthy donners from the mainland who want the economic and political life of this state,” Kahele said.

Less than two years after being elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele announced Saturday that’s he launching a campaign for governor.

“I was a little bit surprised about was how aggressively he pitched himself as a populist, as an outsider, as someone who’s coming in to change the system,” said HNN Political Analyst, Colin Moore. “I mean, can a former state legislator and sitting member of Congress really be an outsider?”

Kahele’s announcement creates another vacancy in Hawaii’s congressional delegation, which Democratic Primary Candidate Vicky Cayetano pointed to.

“We’ve not had a stable congressional delegation since 2010, so we are disappointed that there’s transition again, within our congressional delegation,” said Cayetano. “But with that said, I think the congressman, may be a little challenged in convincing voters that you know, he’s committed, given the short time that he stayed in now his prior job.”

Kahele refused to answer media questions today but is scheduled for an interview on HNN Sunrise Monday morning.

Kahele’s entrance into the gubernatorial race would mean a significant political shake-up ― not only in the election for the next governor but in the race for his current congressional seat.

Already, several politicians have thrown their hats in the race for Congress.

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In the governor’s race, Kahele will be going up against leading Democratic contenders Lt. Gov. Josh Green and former First Lady Vicky Cayetano.

Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell dropped out of the race this week.

Contenders on the Republican side include former UFC champion B.J. Penn, Big Island business consultant Paul Morgan and US Indo-Pacific Command program manager Lynn Mariano.

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