Hawaii minority leader Rep. Andria Tupola enters gubernatorial race

Hawaii minority leader Rep. Andria Tupola enters gubernatorial race
Updated: Jan. 20, 2018 at 7:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Rep. Andria Tupola made it official on Saturday and announced her run for Hawaii's top highest office.

For months, the state's highest-ranking GOP lawmaker has been busy fundraising and holding rallies with supporters.

Tupola said last week's missile alert scare highlighted the lack of trust the people of Hawaii have in Governor David Ige.

"Do I think it's going to hurt his reelection? Absolutely," she said. "I'm a believer that if you don't see a leader in the room, you have to become that leader."

Tupola quickly rose in ranks after being elected in 2014. She's the House minority leader and at 37 years old, believes she's the next Hawaii Governor.

She prides herself in being the voice for West Oahu, but says her concerns transcend across all communities.

"Once you start working at the capitol you see all the pieces, then you realize there's some huge systemic issues in Hawaii," Tupola said. "I'm not going to guess about homelessness, I'm going to walk through an encampment. I'm not going to guess about affordable housing, I'm going to fly to the other islands and go to communities that feel their economically depressed and ask what their solutions are."

Tupola added state tax reform is necessary and doesn't believe party labels -- or President Trump's unpopularity in the islands -- will weigh her down.

But in a heavily democratic state, political analysts say it will be a hard-fought battle.

"In a lot of states, a republican like Andria Tupola who's well qualified would really stir up the game, but this is Hawaii and we really are a one party state," said Colin Moore, HNN political analyst. "She's going to have to talk to everyday voters and promise them that she is going to bring honesty and efficiency to the state."

Tupola says she will rise to that challenge and will have the money for a serious campaign.

She says she's already raised more than $130,000 with a goal of $1.8 million by November.

Tupola's main republican challenger is attorney and former state senator John Carroll, who's unsuccessfully sought higher office in the past.

"Other than her lack of experience, I think she's terrific," Carroll said. "My experience speaks for itself. The state needs what I'm trying to do right now and I will do my best."

In the Democratic primary, incumbent Gov. Ige will face U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa.

A spokesman for Hanabusa's campaign issued the following statement on Saturday:

"Congresswoman Hanabusa is running for governor because our communities deserve a clear vision and decisive leadership. We welcome all challengers and are grateful for the opportunity to debate ideas about how to move our state forward."

Gov. Ige's campaign managers released the following statement on Saturday, as well:

"We welcome Tupola?s candidacy into the race. The people of Hawaii are best served by a healthy debate on the issues with differing political parties and viewpoints. When voters really look at my record, they?ll see the evidence shows my administration has made progress on the longstanding, complex issues they care about."

Tupola said she has spent the last several months grooming someone named Sai Timoteo to take over her seat next year.

She will hold an announcement concert in Kapolei next week.

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