Dinengdeng & Pinakbet

Well, the people have spoken

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran

Well, the people have spoken.

Locally, Hawai‘i remains deep blue.

Democrat Lt. Gov. Josh Green and State Rep. Sylvia Luke easily beat Republicans Duke Aiona (a former Lt. Gov. under the last GOP Governor Linda Lingle) and coach/minister Seaula Tupa‘i Jr., opening a 105,772-vote lead on the first print out which they never relinquished (206,479–100,707). Eventually, Green-Luke totaled 259,901 while Aiona-Tupa‘i had 151,258 after the final reported results, a gap of 108,643 votes.

Troy Hashimoto (from left), Josh Green, Gil S.C. Keith-Agaran and Kyle Yamashita
Photo courtesy Gil Keith-Agaran

With the landslide loss, Aiona passes Frank Fasi and Dominis Garrida (“D.G. Andy”) Anderson as the biggest loser of Hawai‘i gubernatorial elections (Fasi lost as standard bearer of the Best Party in 1994 to Ben Cayetano and as Independent party nominee in 1982 to George Ariyoshi, although Fasi also lost primaries for the Democratic nomination in 1974 and 1978 to Ariyoshi; Anderson lost to Ariyoshi in 1982 and then John Waihe‘e in 1986, before losing a 2002 bid as a Democrat to then-Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono; former U.S. Rep. and Lt. Gov. Tom Gill lost the Democratic nomination to John Burns in the 1970 “Catch a Wave” election and to then Lt. Gov. Ariyoshi in 1974).

Nationally, there was no red tsunami as Democrats fared better than the talking heads expected. Hawai‘i voters decisively re-elected Democratic Senior U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and Urban Honolulu Congressman Ed Case (D-CD1) and picked Jill Tokuda (D-CD2) as the new rural O‘ahu/Neighbor Island U.S. Representative. Schatz romped over former Ewa Beach GOP State Representative Bob McDermott, 289,585–105,704 while Case beat Republican Conrad Kress 142,742–50,833 and Tokuda easily out-polled Republican Joe Akana and Libertarian Michelle Tippens, 127,995–72,455–5,108.

Ed Case (from left), Jill Tokuda and Kaiali‘i Kahele
Photo courtesy Jill Tokuda

With the U.S. Congress narrowly flipping to Republican control at press time, Case and Tokuda will be in the minority in what could be a very divisive final two-years of Joe Biden’s first term as President. The Democrats have held on to their majority in the U.S. Senate, meaning Schatz will retain his chairmanship of the Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Tokuda and Case will need to reach across the partisan aisle to have Hawai‘i’s self-sufficiency interests heard as the Agricultural Bill faces reauthorization.

Brian Schatz

As a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Schatz will need to show if the old adage from the Daniel Inouye-Ted Stevens era still applies—in Congress, there are Democrats, Republicans and then, there are appropriators. Inouye and Stevens worked closely over the years for their two small states (admitted to the union together in 1959) when the two used their committee seniority in taking turns funneling federal funds for both Hawai‘i and Alaskan projects. Under the readopted Congressional Addition process (earmarking), Schatz will be in a position to assist local projects with federal resources.

Lynn DeCoite

Democrats will continue to dominate both chambers of the State Legislature. When the 32nd Legislature convenes for the first of its two Regular Sessions on January 18, 2023, the Senate will include Lynn DeCoite (D- District 7- Molokai- Lāna‘i- East Maui- Upcountry) and Angus McKelvey (D- District 6- South- West- Central Maui). DeCoite won her own term by besting Tamara McKay (R) 14,133–4,537, after completing the remaining term of former State Senator J. Kalani English. West Maui State Rep. McKelvey will serve the new Sixth District which combines the West and South Maui communities served by retired Senator Rosalyn Baker with the Waikapū Gardens and Legends of Maui Lani subdivisions carved out of Gil Keith-Agaran’s Fifth Senate District. McKelvey slipped by Republican Sheila Walker and Green Party nominee Mish Shishido, 9,375–4,625–1,052.

While the GOP surprised Democrats in West O‘ahu (winning four seats), Maui will continue to have an all-Democrat delegation. Voters re-elected Central Maui representatives Troy Hashimoto (D-District 10- Wailuku-Waikapū) and Justin Woodson (D-District 9- Kahului) in the August primary.

The dean of the Maui delegation Kyle Yamashita (D-District 12- Upcountry) set a personal record for votes, as he easily beat back Republican Dan Johnson and Green nominee Summer Starr, 7,069–2,115–1,109. Yamashita is expected to play an even bigger role in the next legislature (the Maui Representative has been the top negotiator for the House Finance committee on public works projects since 2009).

Elle Cochran

Former Maui Councilmember Elle Cochran (D-District 14-West Maui) will serve West Maui, defeating GOP nominee Kelly Armstrong and Aloha ‘Āina’s Leonard Nakoa III, 3,751–2,064–1,032. Cochran will be the second Filipino in the delegation.

Elective newcomers fill the other two House seats. County Council staffer Mahina Poepoe (D-District 13- East Maui-Molokai-Lāna‘i) dispatched Republican Scott Adam and longtime candidate Nick Nikhilananda (G), 5,820–2,079–637. In Kīhei-Wailea, progressive Terez Amato (D- District 11- South Maui) overpowered conservative Shekinah Cantere (R), 5,256–2,879.

Statewide, Democrats will hold twenty-three seats in the State Senate (Brenton Awa ousted Democrat Gil Riviere for the north shore seat, 8,023–7,632). The GOP narrowly lost adding a third seat as incumbent Waianae Senator Maile Shimabukuro retained her seat by seventy-two votes after an automatic recount, 4,971–4,899, over Samantha DeCorte.

Angus McKelvey and Sylvia Luke
Photo courtesy Gil Keith-Agaran

The Republicans added to their House numbers by sweeping through West O‘ahu. Filipino Diamond Garcia finally succeeded in ousting Makakilo Rep. Sharon Har, 3,327–2,974 (Har’s DUI arrest undoubtedly hurt her). GOP attorney Kanani Souza beat Stacelyn Eli in a newly drawn district, 3,976–3,197; Eli had switched from her Nānākuli district to run for that Kapolei seat. Another incumbent with DUI troubles, progressive Ewa Rep. Matt LoPresti lost in a re-match with Republican David Alcos, 3,915–2,755. Former HSTA President Corey Rosenlee was ambushed by GOP Elijah Pierick, 3,763–3,072. Two Filipina Democrats did manage to thwart a complete sweep in West O‘ahu as Rachele Fernandez Lamosao won the Waipahu seat over Veamoniti Lautaha, 3,048–965, and longtime candidate Rose Martinez edged small business owner Janie Gueso, 3,075–2,866.

Democratic Majority Leader Della Au Belatti will remain one of eight Filipino House members, beating Charlotte Rosecrans, 5,435–2,131. The others are incumbent Hawai‘i island Rep. Greggor Ilagan, Kalihi Rep. Ernesto “Sonny” Ganaden, and newly elected Lamasao, Martinez, Garcia, and Cochran. Joining them is first-time candidate Micah Po‘okela Kim Aiu (son of longtime Filipina State Senator Donna Mercado Kim) who won his first race, narrowly beating Garner Shimizu, 3,753–3,505.

Democrats retain a Super Majority, 45–6.

Filipino Senators will include Hawai‘i island Senators Lorraine Inouye and Joy San Buenaventura, Maui Senator Gil S.C. Keith-Agaran, and O‘ahu Senators Donna Mercado Kim, Brandon J.C. Elefante, Donovan DelaCruz, and Henry J.C. Aquino. In short, fifteen of the seventy-six legislators will be Filipinos, fourteen Democrats and one Republican.

Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran was re-elected in the August 2022 Primary Election to a four-year term as the State Senator for Central Maui.