Hirono gets free ride as Dems dominate Hawaii Congress races

Published: Jun. 6, 2018 at 8:33 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2018 at 6:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tuesday's filing deadline for candidates in Hawaii's 2018 election leaves many Democrats running for Congress little chance of facing competitive opposition in the November general election.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono appears guaranteed of reelection as not a single opponent capable of mounting a statewide campaign is running against her.

Hirono has no opponent at all in the Aug. 11 primary.

While eight Republicans did file for that party's primary by the filing deadline, none has held elective office or has the resources or name recognition to mount a serious campaign to challenge Hirono.

Hirono issued a statement suggesting she will not let up, regardless of the competition: "Throughout my time in public service I've never taken a single race for granted. These are not normal times, and I will continue to work hard to earn the trust of the people of Hawaii so I can keep on speaking out and fighting for them in the Senate," Hirono wrote.

Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore says Hirono was considered unbeatable not only because of her popularity, incumbency political war chest, but because her battle with kidney cancer has made her a sympathetic favorite as well.

"The party and the public would surely punish any prominent Democrat who ran against her right now," Moore said.

Her illness also makes it possible she may be unable to finish her term, Moore said, "So her rivals may be biding their time."

The GOP U.S. Senate candidates are:

  • Consuelo E. Anderson of Waikoloa
  • George L. Berish of Honolulu
  • Ronald C. Curtis of Kalaheo
  • Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente who lists a San Diego address
  • Robert C. Helsham, Sr., Honolulu
  • Edward Pirkowski of Kihei
  • Michael R. Hodgkiss of Ocean View
  • Thomas E. White

Waikoloa resident Joy J. Allison is running as a member of the Constitution Party. The race also attracted three non-partisan candidates, Charles David Haverty of Honolulu, Matthew Kameeiamoku Maertens of Ewa Beach and Arturo P. Reyes of Waipahu.

The late entry of former Democratic Congressman Ed Case into the crowded field to fill the urban Oahu seat vacated by gubernatorial candidate Colleen Hanabusa has dramatically changed the dynamics of the race.

Experts say Case is likely the new frontrunner because of high name recognition due to four years in congress and two high profile efforts at statewide office.

Retired political science professor Dan Boylan also said Case also will be helped by being the only Caucasian in the field of six well known officeholders.

He faces state Sen. Donna Kim, Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, Honolulu Council Chairman Ernie Martin state Reps. Beth Fukumoto and Kaniela Ing and Palasi S. Puletasi, of Ewa Beach, in the Democratic Primary.

In the Republican Primary for the 1st District, former state Rep. Campbell "Cam" Cavasso is the only candidate with experience in elective office, although he has not been successful in several attempts for various higher positions.

Also in the GOP primary are Honolulu attorney Emmanuel Tipon and Raymond Vinole of Honolulu.

The Libertarian candidate for the 1st District is Michelle Tippens of Honolulu. The Green Party candidate is Zachary B. Burd of Honolulu.

There are two nonpartisans running for the first congressional seat – John E. Cipolla and Calvin C. Griffin, both of Honolulu.

With incumbent Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard running for re-election, the Second Congressional District, made up of suburban Oahu and the neighbor islands, has a much less crowded field.

In the Democratic primary, Gabbard is being challenged by environmental scientist and foster care advocate Sheryl Campagna. Campagna was endorsed by the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Also running as a Democrat is Anthony Tony Austin, whose website identifies him as a small business owner and advocate for civil rights, veterans and the environment.

The only other candidate in the 2nd Congressional race is Republican Brian Evans whose campaign website says he is a singer and author whose issues include a nationwide campaign for sleep apnea awareness.

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