After bruising primary, candidates share message of unity as they look ahead to the general

Hawaii’s next governor will take office at a pivotal time in the state’s history.
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 7:05 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 14, 2022 at 10:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Democratic candidates gathered Sunday for an election year tradition — the Unity Breakfast aimed at making nice after a flurry of attacks on the campaign trail.

And this year’s primary election was particularly brutal.

“Put your hand on someone near you. Some Democrat near you. And please just say with me, ‘I don’t hate you. I will learn to love you,’” joked Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who clinched the Democratic nomination for governor in Saturday’s primary election, as he addressed attendees at the breakfast.

Former lawmaker Sylvia Luke, who won the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor, said now is the time to come together. “I was thinking the entire time when I was in the debate... if I wasn’t running, I would vote for him or her. They just touched people, and were giving us human stories,” she said.

The light-hearted tone was in sharp contrast to the mudslinging, name-calling and attack ads that characterized the races for governor and lieutenant governor.

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Voters saw messages of discord that political analysts say may have turned off voters.

Now there’s a different message focused on the general election.

“To set aside differences, and to reaffirm the fact that we’re all Democrats and we we share a common vision idea for the future, and that we work together,” said Dennis Jung, Democratic Party of Hawaii chair.

Republicans are planning to do the same thing.

“We’re on the same team, we have a common challenge,”said Hawaii Republican Party chair Lynn Finnegan. “And that is that we want to end the grip that the Democrat Party has here in Hawaii.

“We want to fight for it. And we’re going to do that.”

Republican Party members touted their unity throughout the primaries, not just after.

“We were better,” said the GOP party’s nominee for governor, Duke Aiona. “The reason we were better is because we didn’t get down to what they did.”

Now the Republican nominees for governor and lieutenant governor are hearing a call to action. “We all shared the same frustration. We share the same, you know, challenges that everybody else did,” he said.

Seaula Junior Tupa’i, Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, said Republicans are united.

“As far as getting that message out there. I think that we do have a message that will resonate with the people,” he said.

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