Ige weighs in on the race to replace him and ‘concerning’ frustration with government

Former MMA champ BJ Penn is running for governor as a republican and vowing radical change similar to the disrupter who won a third of Hawaii’s vote in 2016.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:11 PM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 8:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a recent interview, Gov. David Ige spoke to Hawaii News Now from his ceremonial office ― distinguished portraits of former governors surrounding him.

Now a former fighter ― former MMA champ BJ Penn ― wants to join their ranks.

“It’ll be interesting to see how well he does in the Republican primary,” Ige said. “Who knows? He might actually win the republican primary.”

Penn is vowing radical change, similar to the disrupter who won a third of Hawaii’s vote in 2016 ― President Donald Trump. “We’re here to dismantle all the departments and rebuild them and restructure them up with the people’s help,” Penn recently told Hawaii News Now.

At a recent Board of Education meeting, Penn vowed to fire interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi and Board of Education members because of anger over pandemic policies. In Hawaii, the Board of Education selects the superintendent and the governor appoints BOE members.

“Where’s Hayashi? Right behind you,” said Penn, during the confrontation. “You’re gone braddah when I get in. You don’t do nothing for the kids! All you guys, all you guys gone.”

Ige called the exchange a “concern.”

The pandemic unleashed frustration with government and Ige acknowledges gaps between the state and county, but he defends his polices and the role of government.

“A candidate who’s going to run and say we don’t need government, clearly I think this pandemic showed why government is important,” Ige told Hawaii News Now.

There are several GOP candidates for governor, including city Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

HNN asked Ige who he’s throwing his support behind in the Democratic race for governor. Leading candidates include Lt. Gov. Josh Green, former First Lady Vicky Cayetano or Congressman Kai Kahele.

“As the head of the Democratic party, I am not taking sides,” said Ige.

“Do you think your lieutenant governor, Josh Green, would be a good governor?” asked HNN.

He replied: “I think the beauty of a campaign is it allows people to ask questions.”

Ige added that mail-in voting, which has doubled turnout, has been good for democracy.

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