On Election Day, candidates hit the campaign trail one last time in bid to woo last-minute voters
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Candidates for governor spent Election Day on the campaign trail.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, the Democratic candidate for governor, began early Tuesday with sign waving Downtown while his Republican opponent, former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, got his start in Kapolei.
“I feel great. I’m excited. And there’s always a little bit of a flutter in your stomach on election day but people have been so generous ... We’re grateful,” said Green.
Green said the last two years of the pandemic helped prepare him for the state’s top job.
“There were dark times. Going through a crisis like that does prepare a leader,” he said.
“Whether or not I’m chosen tonight, it was an experience that I’ll always treasure because people stepped up, they sacrificed together and that’s why we came through better than anybody else.”
On the other hand, Aiona said the lockdowns and pandemic-era policies of Gov. David Ige’s administration took a heavy toll on the economy and that many voters now want change.
“We don’t want the status quo. For too long, we’ve been talking about the same issues. And, you know, we feel it, we really feel a lot of people are just coming up to us every day telling us we need change,” said Aiona.
His running mate, Junior Tupai, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, added: “All we need is someone to listen. So we got two ears, one mouth, so we can listen more. And sometimes we got to talk less.”
Along with a new governor, Hawaii voters will also select a new U.S. representative on Tuesday.
Both candidates for Congressional District 2 seat were also out sign waving Tuesday, aware that the winner will be working in a Congress that may be even more partisan than in the past.
“No matter how tonight pans out, it’s going to be a deeply divided Congress, a deeply divided Washington D.C. So I think more than ever going into this ― especially as a freshman ― is how do you navigate in those waters,” said Jill Tokuda, a former state senator and the Democratic candidate for the District 2 House seat.
“It is about everyone treating each other with aloha, beeping and waving to each other. It’s about how do we find that common ground.”
Her opponent, Republican candidate Joe Akana said: “Let’s get rid of the divisive language. And let’s focus .... on solutions. We’ve got a lot of issues that are ongoing ... cost of living, inflation, high energy costs, electricity bills going through the roof, grocery costs go into the roof.”
Along with the incumbents and veteran political leaders, a number of first-time candidates are getting their feet wet for the first time running in a general election.
They include two candidates for the state House and Tupai, the Republican running for lieutenant governor. The vast majority of the seats in the state House and Senate have been held by incumbents.
“It’s been honestly the greatest experience of my life. We started this journey, I think 222 days ago with the mission to just serve our communities,” said first-time candidate Darius Kila, a Democratic candidate for the state House seat in Nanakuli.
Added Rachele Lamosao, a first-time candidate for the House in Waipahu: “There’s a lot of property crime that happens in Waipahu and addressing that issue but also that homelessness ... are some of the really big things right now.”
Compared to the Democratic primary, which was marked by personal attacks and special interest smear ads, the campaign work during the general election was much more cordial and respectful, several candidates said.
“Right after the primary, people came up to me and said ‘oh, we’re so happy that the results turned out the way it did,’” said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
“They were just so happy that they were not seeing the kind of negatives this election ... I think people were just very disgusted by it.”
Added Aiona: “We feel at peace. We feel, you know what we just ran the best campaign we could ever run. So we’re feeling really good about ourselves,” he said.
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