From the head and the heart – My post-primary election analysis

Right before the polls closed yesterday, a friend asked me how I was feeling. I responded, “Stomach is in knots. I’m thinking we could have a landslide of victories, we could crash and burn, or we could wind up somewhere in-between.”

It’s the in-between scenario that has prevailed.

The short answer is we had some significant wins and some significant losses.

I’m pleased to report strong success in the State House of Representatives.

As of print-out #3 that just came out, 10 State Representatives (*incumbent) endorsed by the Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative (PHI), will be proceeding on to the General Election in November.

*Jeanné Kapela, District 5 (North Kona, South Kona, West Ka’u)
Terez Amato, District 11 (South Maui)
Elle Cochran, District 14 (West Maui, Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu)
Mahina Poepoe, District 13 (Haiku, Ko’olau, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Paia, Lanai, Moloka’i)
*Adrian Tam, District 24 (Waikiki, McCully, Moiliili)
*Sonny Ganaden, District 30 (Kalihi Kai, Pearl Harbor/Hickam)
Corey Rosenlee, District 39 (‘Ewa, Waipahu, Kunia, Ho’opili, Waikele)
*Matt LoPresti, District 41 (Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ewa Villages, Hoakalei, Ocean Pointe)
*Amy Perruso, District 46 (Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley)
Natalia Hussey-Burdick, District 50 (Kailua, Kāne’ohe, Marine Corps Base Hawai’i)

Assuming they are successful in the November General Election, these 10 individuals listed above will comprise approximately 20% of the entire State House. This is clearly a significant step forward in achieving the positive change needed at the legislature.

If this group of 10 is able to coalesce and/or possibly grow, they could also play a formidable role in reorganizing House leadership. 10 is a big number when the goal is reaching the 26 needed.

On Oahu, PHI endorsed 3 candidates for the 9-member Honolulu Council and 2 made it through to the General Election:
Matt Weyer – District 2
Ron Menor – District 8

On Maui, PHI endorsed 9 candidates for that 9-member Council and 8 will go on to the General Election:
*Keani Rawlins-Fernandez – Molokai
*Gabe Johnson – Lanai
*Tamara Paltin – West Maui
*Shane Sinenci – East Maui
Jordan Hocker – Upcountry
Robin Knox – South Maui
Nara Boone – Makawao-Haiku-Paia
Noelani Ahia – Wailuku, Waihee, Waikapu

On Hawaiʻi Island, PHI endorsed 4 candidates of that 9-member Council. The 3 incumbents received more than 50% of the vote and thus have been elected outright. Jennifer Kagiwada will head to the General Election:
*Heather Kimball, District 1
Jennifer Kagiwada, District 2
*Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, District 5
*Rebecca Villegas, District 7

On Kaua`i, PHI endorsed only 2 new challengers running in the Primary for election to the 7 member Council. Both will proceed to the General Election:
Fern Anuenue Holland
Addison Bulosan
Note: Because of the structure of the Kaua`i Council elections (all elected at-large), and because important votes were before the Council at the time, PHI chose not to endorse any incumbents during the Primary.

At the top of the ticket – For Congress in the CD2 PHI endorsed Jill Tokuda who was successful in the Primary and now moves to the General Election.

In summary –

PHI endorsed candidates had significant wins in the State House of Representatives AND on the County Councils of every County.

And we had some very tough races that fell short.

Congressman Kai Kahele worked his heart out to give all of us a choice in the gubernatorial race. He, his family, and the core campaign team deserve a huge aloha and mahalo from all of us.

Sergio Alcubilla likewise worked 24/7 and came from virtually an unknown player in the political world to someone who gained huge respect from the community at large and secured some major endorsements from political entities that came to know him.

Keith Amemiya, whom I don’t know as well, has become someone whom I want to know better.

We have not seen the last of these three gentlemen I hope. Our community, and our world needs their leadership and once they rest up a bit – I’m sure they will be back in the saddle working hard again for all of us.

While we can count many successes coming out of this primary election, I’m also sad that several good candidates and dear friends fell short of reaching their goal.

For Kim Coco Iwamoto it’s deja vu all over again with the final count being very, very close…but so far not enough to push her over the top. Speaking for not just myself but for the legions of advocates across all islands, I say mahalo Kim Coco for all you do for so many AND for being there these past few years holding Speaker Saiki’s feet to the fire. It’s because of you that our minimum wage will be going to $18 and it is because of you that in the coming months we are likely to have some significant election and ethics reforms passed.

Uncle Walter Ritte and Ikaika Hussey – you are both awesome brothers and I so appreciate you. Mahalo for everything.

Kathy Feldman, Gary Gill, Makana Paris, Shannon Matson, Ian Ross, Roy Takumi, Valerie Wang, Dale Kobayashi, Kelly King, Samuel Peralta, Carol Lee Kamekona, and Senator Acasio…and to so many others. You all gave it a good fight. My hope is that you will join me in the trenches of legislative advocacy on January 1st and then begin working on going back again for another bite of the electoral apple in 2024.

There’s a lot of work still yet to be done.

Love you all. Imua!

Gary Hooser
Executive Director
Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative
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P.S. I will write later on the “why” as I see it…and the “how”…why we were not even more successful and how we get there…At least I’ll give it my best shot at brainstorming these two topics.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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1 Response to From the head and the heart – My post-primary election analysis

  1. Jon Olsen says:

    I appreciate this report and evaluation Gary. Jon in Maine

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