Tokuda secures Democratic primary win in race for seat held by U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele

The first voting results showed Tokuda with about 50% of the votes, and Patrick Branco with 21%.
Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 6:17 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 13, 2022 at 9:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Jill Tokuda has secured the Democratic primary win in the race for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, the seat currently held by Kai Kahele.

The first voting results showed Tokuda with about 50% of the votes, and Patrick Branco with 21%.

“You know, I was just humbled and I’m blown away by the show of support in those numbers,” Tokuda said.

“More importantly, you know, we’ve been going through these last few days, literally from Hilo to Hanalei, talking to folks, listening to folks, and just the outpouring of support that we’ve received and statements that they’ve said, that we can run hard, we can run tough campaigns, we can talk about issues, but let’s do so with civility and aloha.”

After seeing the results, Branco said his next step would be to congratulate Tokuda.

“There’s a lot at stake in Washington, and right now, we need to focus on bringing together our party and making sure Ms. Tokuda is successful in that,” Branco said.

Kahele is vacating the seat after he made the surprise decision to not run for re-election and instead launch his campaign for governor after spending less than two years in Washington.

Tokuda — who previously served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2018 — had initially entered the crowded race for lieutenant governor but made the switch to run for Congress after Kahele made his announcement that he would no longer seek reelection.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2022]

Tokuda is currently a co-director of Cyber Hawaii, which works with small businesses and nonprofits to be more cyber-aware. Though it’s been a few years since she was state senator, she’s a well-known figure in Hawaii politics after spending 12 years in the Legislature, where she also was chairwoman of numerous committees.

She also ran for lieutenant governor in 2018 but lost against Lt. Gov. Josh Green in the primary election.

Tokuda says she’s running for Congress to give families a voice in government.

Meanwhile, Patrick Branco is a political newcomer who’s finishing up his second year in the state House of Representatives. Prior to that, the Kailua native was a U.S. diplomat, serving tours in Colombia and Pakistan.

He has said he believes his career in public service led him to this race.


Branco made headlines recently after critics accused him of using a new tactic to attract so-called “dark money” advertising by mainland Political Action Committees.

His campaign website includes a media page that lays out explicit talking points that he wanted voters to see, read and hear — which insiders say is code for television, print and radio ads.

The website also offered ways to attack Tokuda, which were echoed in a recent PAC-produced ad.

However, Branco denied any collusion.

Branco also recently demanded that a Super PAC supporting him take down an ad that attacks Tokuda, calling the content “sensational.” The ad from VoteVets criticizes Tokuda while including images of school shootings.

But critics say he had many opportunities to denounce the ads.

Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District covers rural parts of Oahu — including Windward Oahu and the North Shore — as well as the neighbor islands.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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