Chad Blair: Here’s How Hawaii’s Major Political Races In 2022 Shake Up


Is it too early to talk about 2022? Not at all.

In less than a year, voters in Hawaii will go to the polls to select candidates for the primary (Saturday, August 13), an election that often turns out to be more important than the general because our state is dominated by one party. Politics.

The vacancies include the two main elected positions in the state, governor and lieutenant governor.

After speaking with many different kinds of smart politicians in the state and beyond – some officially, some not, so they can speak freely – a field begins to emerge. Here is the last one.


Is there anyone in Hawaii who doesn’t know Josh Green wants to be governor?

Over the past 10 days, our very ambitious Lieutenant Governor has been featured in a great Honolulu Star-Advertiser story with a headline stating that he does not apologize in his quest to distance himself and ultimately succeed the unpopular incumbent government. and for a limited period. David Igé.

Josh Green, COVID-19, coronavirus, vaccine, pfizer, moderna, pandemic, shot, vaccination
Lt. Gov. Josh Green administered about 50 COVID-19 vaccines to healthcare workers in Windward Oahu in December. Courtesy of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office

The main photo showed a masked, empathetic Green kneeling down to listen to a man with a walker at a homeless hygiene center. It looks like a campaign ad.

Green, who has raised the most money in the 2022 gubernatorial race so far, is the obvious frontrunner, although he has not officially declared he is running. (He is.)

Kirk Caldwell, the former mayor of Honolulu, narrowly follows Green in the hunt for money and expects Green to somehow implode before Election Day.

It’s possible. By his own admission, Green is pulling from the hip, which could get him in trouble. But Green, a doctor, is there anyone in Hawaii who hasn’t seen Josh Green in his hospital gowns? – is a leading voice in the fight against Covid-19.

(For months, the Department of Health announced the latest count of Covid cases at noon. At one point, Green started sharing case numbers publicly at 10:30 am, generating breaking news and tons of it for him. Now, the DOH announces the results at 9:00 a.m. It is not yet known whether Green will tweet and instagram the number of cases at 7:30 a.m. in the future.)

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces the reopening of Honolulu on Level 2 during a press conference held at the Waikiki Shell.
Then-mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Honolulu’s Level 2 status at a press conference at the Waikiki Shell in October. Cory Lum / Civil Beat / 2020

Green was also recently featured in a flattering profile in The Washington Post as well as in The Hill, where he warned of another possible lockdown due to the delta variant. Generally speaking, lieutenant governors do not often receive such national press unless their governor is in trouble.

Does Caldwell have a chance?

Yes. He is an experienced pol, he is equally ambitious, he knows how to raise funds (although something has not been demonstrated so far this campaign), he has a strong notoriety and he believes his leadership on Honolulu’s response to Covid has been effective. I’ve even heard people dream nostalgically about Caldwell and the color-coded reopening tier system that Mayor Rick Blangiardi left once in office.

Unlike Green, Caldwell actually ran a great government and he had his share of real achievements in power. His main challenge is rail, the project he has long championed but is out of his control, and other baggage that always comes back to jobs like the mayor – like the ill-advised playground of Ala Moana Beach. Park and the construction of a ball field. at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.

The only other candidate to emerge (so far) in the gubernatorial contest is Vicky Cayetano, a businesswoman and the wife of former governor Ben Cayetano.

Former Hawaii First Lady Vicky Cayetano and Former Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano at the King Kamehameha 100th Parade in Honolulu 2016. Daniel Ramirez / Wikimedia

She hired a seasoned public relations expert, Lynne Waters, to manage her media, which included issuing a press release last week in which Cayetano urged Ige to demand vaccinations for patrons of restaurants, bars, spas, outdoor gymnasiums, performing arts and sporting events.

Waters says Cayetano is expected to officially announce his campaign later this month “or so.”

A big result for Cayetano is that she is the only woman of color in a race featuring two white men running to lead the country’s most ethnically diverse state. She never ran for office – nor Blangiardi – and it was interesting that her organizing report filed with the state Campaign Expenses Commission initially did not indicate her party affiliation, as did the same reports for Green and Caldwell. (They are both Democrats. Duh.)

Cayetano’s report, however, was amended on Wednesday to say that she is in fact a Democrat. (Note: Cayetano’s campaign chair is Loretta Sheehan, formerly of the Honolulu Police Commission.)

Wild card: Will Colleen Hanabusa, who again heads the rail authority, run for governor again? I would say it depends on what happens with the other three candidates and if they stay in the race.

What about the Republicans? Andria Tupola, the GOP candidate three years ago, is now on Honolulu City Council and is not running for office. I have no idea who could do it in the party.

Lieutenant Governor

Here’s a little news: Former state senator Jill Tokuda is expected to run to replace Green, who she lost to in 2018.

“I have spoken with a lot of supporters and individuals in my campaign, and it has really become clear to me that I can no longer sit on the sidelines – that there is a lot of good that I can do for this condition she told me on Wednesday, “I’m working on filing my organizational papers by Labor Day so we can be up and running.”

Tokuda will join former city councilors Ikaika Anderson and Ron Menor, who have already filed their organizational documents. On Wednesday Menor told me he was “still exploring a run” while Anderson said, “Yes, I’m looking to run.”

Jill Tokuda at party headquarters Saturday night August 11, 2018 (Civilbeat Photo by Ronen Zilberman)
Jill Tokuda at party headquarters on the night of the primary in August 2018. She lost the race for LG but is running again in 2022. Ronen Zilberman / Civil Beat

Another former city council member, Kym Pine, says she has not made a decision for 2022 but has also been approached by supporters and that the LG office is a possibility.

Keith Amemiya, the finalist in last year’s Honolulu mayoral race, said “no comment” on the race. But I hear his name a lot.

The same goes for State Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki (who is said to be already weighing a race – thanks for reading Civil Beat!)

The downside for Saiki and Dela Cruz is that they would have to give up their powerful positions in the legislature – Saiki because the seats in the House increase every two years and Dela Cruz because the ten-year redistribution means that every Senate seat in the l ‘State will be increased next year.

Wild card: Tulsi Gabbard. Truly.

Republicans: Defeat me.

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