Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hawai'i Governor- Race of the Day

86 Days Until Election Day

Hawai'i Governor

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Yesterday, Hawaiians went to the polls and selected candidates in the party primaries. The make-up of the overwhelmingly Democrat state indicates that for all intents and purposes that the contest for Governor was decided yesterday.

Incumbent Governor David Ige won re-nomination for a second term. The most recent numbers show that margin was 50-43 percent over Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who a while back looked like she was headed for a triumph over the incumbent. The series of events that led Ige to becoming Governor involve Hanabusa and thus it was somewhat ironic that she waged a primary challenge against him.

When longtime Democrat Senator Daniel Inouye was dying, he privately let it be known that he wanted Hanabusa selected to replace him. However, the state's Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Caucasian did not take that suggestion and instead picked his own Lt. Governor, Brian Schatz, also a white man, for the vacant Senate seat when Inouye passed away. This set off a chain of events dividing the traditional wing of the party in the state along with the more anti-establishment progressives, from which Abercrombie had always been associated. Hanabusa ran for the Senate seat in a primary against Schatz and was narrowly defeated. At the same time, Abercrombie was tossed from office in a landslide margin by Ige, then a fairly little known State Senator, despite the fact that the incumbent had the endorsement of then President and former Hawai'i resident Barack Obama.. This kind of rebuke of an incumbent in Hawaiian politics was somewhat unprecedented. It is also true that if Hanabusa had decided to run for Governor against Abercrombie, instead of the Senate seat, she likely would have become Governor. She won her House seat back in 2016, after leaving it two years earlier for the losing Senate run, but decided to leave it once again this cycle to run for Governor.

Perhaps, that regret led her to challenge Ige this time and the party was once again split. The precedent for knocking off an incumbent Democrat had been established and Ige looked very vulnerable. The incident involving his Administration sending off an erroneous bulletin  that the North Koreans had launched a missile. While he was not personally at fault for the human error, Ige was forced to apologize for the confusion and panic that understandably ensued this past January. The damage seemed to linger as polls from the Hanabusa campaign and elsewhere showed her ahead of the incumbent by as much as 36 points.

It has been said that more recently Ige's handing of the volcano eruption on the Big Island had helped stabilize his standing and even though much of the party establishment had turned on him, after backing him in 2014, he pulled ahead late in the game and won a victory last night. Today, some Democrats are wondering if the Hanabusa campaign and her allies needed to make the case against the incumbent in a more forceful way.

Ige, of a Japanese origin, is currently the nation's only Asian-Pacific Governor and that might remain the case. In a state such as Hawai'i where Asian-Americans make up the largest percentage of residents, both major party nominees will share that background. The winner of the Republican primary yesterday was 37 year old House Minority Leader Andria Tupola, of a Samoan background. Being Minority Leader in the Hawai'i legislature takes things to the extreme. She leads a caucus of only five members out of 51 total. The Hawai'i Senate has zero Republicans. Tupola is seen as an attractive figure for the party. She won 53 percent of the vote to defeat two other candidates, the closest being 88 year old John Carroll, a white man who served decades ago in both legislative houses. Since then, he ran unsuccessfully for Governor or for federal office several times, and was most recently the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate nominee. He also had to surrender his law license last year due to professional misconduct. Carroll's name recognition among Republicans had him leading the polls, but in the end, what is left of Hawaiian Republicans went in a new direction.

Last night also saw the primaries for Lt. Governor, where candidates ran separately and and are now matched up with the Gubernatorial nominees. The last elected Lt. Governor resigned early this year to take a job in the private sector and reportedly and at least one other Democrat who would have been in line to take the job decided it was not something they wanted. The current interim Lt. Governor ran instead for Congress this year and lost in a primary yesterday.

Five Democrats did seek the position though and State Senator Josh Green, a physician, appears to have beaten his closest competitor and Senate colleague Jill Tokuda by about two and a half percentage points. It appears that Green will be the only white candidate among the four on the tickets. His wife though is Asian-American. On the lower turnout Republican side, the results are even closer. The apparent winner is businesswoman Marissa Kerns, a native of the Philippines, who looks to be 211 votes ahead of businessman and former Air Force office Steve Lipscomb. A third Republican candidate, Jeremy Low, a research analyst is not all that far behind them either.

Republicans held the Governorship of Hawai'i not all that long ago, and used to have some hopes of winning the office back, but that seems to be impossible this year. Even with large remnants of the party divided and the establishment against him in the primary, which apparently included every single living former Democrat Governor, David Ige has already faced his toughest challenge of the year. His Republican opponent might be a good candidate with a strong message for change, but is simply not running in the right state.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

5 D,  (2 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup) 5 R (2 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

12 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup), 12 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Ige wins BIGLY (70% to 28%) & gets 4 more years at Washington Place.


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