In Saturday’s Hawaii primary election, reports from the state find that state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) was an easy winner in the open Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua). Mr. Kahele captured a whopping 76% of the vote. He now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in November, as he should easily defeat new Republican nominee Joe Akana, a business development consultant and US Air Force veteran.
Voters in Hawaii cast their ballots in a Democratic presidential nomination primary over the Memorial Day weekend that is not particularly important in the scope of campaign politics but did provide an interesting note.
In a first round of voting that included ten candidate names who had previously qualified for the Hawaii primary, former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, received only 56% as compared to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT), 31%. In a second round, featuring only Biden and Sanders, the former VP’s total was still a rather unimpressive 63% for a candidate who has no active Democratic opposition.
Last week Hawaii election officials suspended the April 4th stand-alone presidential primary and turned the vote into an all-mail procedure. Now, the date of May 22nd has been established as the deadline for local county election officers to receive all ballots. The regular Hawaii primary is still scheduled for August 8th.
Governors and election officials in several more states are making changes in their election calendars due to COVID-19 virus precautions.
The Alaska presidential primary will now be an all-mail operation. Therefore, the deadline for sending in ballots has been moved from April 4th to April 10th. The state primary remains scheduled for August 18th.
Hawaii officials have cancelled the in-person option for the April 4th presidential primary. Instead, the election will be conducted solely through the mail. The state primary remains on August 8th.
The New York Attorney General has recommended to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) that the state’s presidential primary remain on April 28th but be conducted through the mail. No action has yet occurred regarding changing the June 23rd state primary election date.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who postponed the March 17th presidential and state primary and potentially moved it to June 2nd, is considering changing to an all-mail system. This is largely because thousands have votes were already cast through the mail in anticipation of the originally scheduled primary.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has reached an agreement with Republican legislative leaders to move the April 28th presidential and state primary to June 2nd. An announcement of such is imminent.
The Puerto Rico presidential primary has been transferred from March 29th to April 26th.
Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) also signed an executive order moving the state’s presidential primary from April 28th to June 2nd. The state primary will remain set for September 1st.
In an expected move, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced over the weekend that she will not seek another term in the House. Her retirement statement indicated she wants to fully concentrate on her presidential run. Early polling suggested that her running for President was not a particularly positive move with her constituents as more than 60% say they wanted to see her withdraw from the national campaign. Additionally, when paired in polling with leading primary opponent Kai Kahele, a Hilo area state Senator, Ms. Gabbard’s margins were not particularly impressive.
For his part, Sen. Kahele indicated he will continue his congressional run and now looks to become the early favorite to capture the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this safe Democratic seat. Mr. Kahele has raised just over $500,000 for the race, with about $371,000 remaining in his campaign account. Candidate filing is not until June 2nd for the August 8th primary, so much time remains for other Democrats to enter the race.
Public Policy Polling went into the field to test presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard in her own congressional district. So far, the Congresswoman has been non-committal about whether she would seek re-election if or when her presidential campaign ends. The survey (9/27-29; 990 HI-2 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Gabbard’s numbers acceptable but not particularly strong. It is clear that her constituents want her to end her national campaign. PPP finds that 60% of those sampled said Ms. Gabbard should drop out of the presidential race against only 28% who said she should continue.
Overall, her job approval is considered a tepid 44:34% positive to negative because the survey sampling universe is limited to likely Democratic primary voters. Paired with state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo), Rep. Gabbard posts a healthy lead of 48-26%, but she is below majority support among a group that should constitute her political base. Sen. Kahele is an announced congressional candidate and appears willing to stay in the Democratic primary race even if Rep. Gabbard returns.
Former 1st District Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu), who won the congressional post in 2010 but left it to run unsuccessfully for Senate in 2014, only to return after her successor, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea), passed away from pancreatic cancer, and then left again to run unsuccessfully for Governor in 2018, is looking to rebound yet again. Yesterday, she filed to run for Mayor of Honolulu, hoping to succeed term-limited Democratic incumbent Kirk Caldwell.
Ironically, she may again face a former foe who has also run unsuccessfully for several offices. Former US Rep. Charles Djou, who served as a Republican but has since left the party, is also considering running again for Mayor, a position he previously attempted to win.
The first cross-party endorsement has already been made for the 2020 election, and it goes to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Former presidential candidate and veteran Republican Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has publicly endorsed Ms. Gabbard saying she is “by far the very, very best…”. It is unclear how much this endorsement will help her in Democratic primaries, but it certainly demonstrates she is attempting to have a rather wide appeal.
Ever since Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced for President, things have not gone well for her at home. Soon after her presidential move, state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) announced for her congressional seat. Should Ms. Gabbard not fare well in the presidential race she will now face a serious re-nomination challenge in the Democratic primary.
On Friday, Democratic former Governor Ben Cayetano announced his endorsement of Sen. Kahele. Previously, two other Democratic ex-Governors, Neil Abercrombie and John Waihee, also endorsed the challenger. Rep. Gabbard has consistently absorbed attacks from both the left and right. She also created major controversy when she met with Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
Soon after announcing that she plans to run for President, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) has drawn a serious Democratic challenger for her congressional seat. State Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) announced that he will run for the 2nd District House seat whether or not Ms. Gabbard seeks re-election in 2020. Under Hawaii law, an individual can simultaneously run for President and another office.
Mr. Kahele was originally appointed to the state Senate when his father, veteran state legislator Gil Kahele, passed away. Kai Kahele then won the Democratic nomination later in 2016, and the general election in November of that year. This potential contest could well become a serious political challenge.
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