From left: Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Brian Schatz.
HONOLULU — As expected, two incumbents and a former member of Congress did well in Hawaii’s Democratic primaries on Aug. 13.
Sen. Brian Schatz seems well on his way to being elected to his first full term, having received 162,891 votes (86.17 percent) in the Democratic primary. Trailing behind were Keawe Adventures founder Makani Christensen (11,898 votes, 6.29 percent), investor Miles Shiratori (8,620 votes, 4.56 percent), perennial candidate Arturo Reyes (3,819 votes, 2.02 percent), and TSA employee Tutz Honeychurch (1,815 votes, 0.96 percent).
Following the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye in 2012, then-Lt. Gov. Schatz was appointed by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the vacancy until the 2014 special election, which Schatz won, to serve the remainder of Inouye’s term.
The Republican nominee in the fall election is former state senator and former state representative John Carroll, who received 26,747 votes (74.58 percent), followed by John Roco (3,956 votes, 11.03 percent), Karla Gottschalk (3,045 votes, 8.49 percent) and Eddie Pirkowski (2,114 votes, 5.89 percent).
Also in the running were Libertarian Michael Kokoski (909 votes) and independent candidates Joy Allison (217 votes) and John Giuffre (111 votes).
In the 1st Congressional District, which covers the southeastern parts of the City and County of Honolulu, several candidates were vying to succeed Rep. Mark Takai, who died in July from pancreatic cancer. He had announced that he would not seek a second term but had planned to serve out the rest of his current term.
Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who gave up the congressional seat to challenge Schatz in 2014, was the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary with 74,013 votes (80.37 percent). Her opponents were Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Leinaala “Lei” Ahu Isa (11,518 votes, 12.51 percent), real estate developer Howard Kim (2,749 votes, 2.99 percent), Iraq War veteran Javier Ocasio (1,117 votes, 1.21 percent), retired INS special agent Sam Puletasi (1,036 votes, 1.13 percent), Department of Education behavioral specialist Lei Sharsh-Davis (915 votes, 0.99 percent), and conflict resolution consultant Steve Tataii (737 votes, 0.80 percent).
Hanabusa, who was elected twice to Congress, said she will also run in a special election to serve the last two months of Takai’s term.
“If I win in the general and in the special at the same time, I think that I’m probably the best person to hit the ground running because of the fact that it would be filling out Mark’s term,” she told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Takai said in a statement in May, “I intend to do all I can to elect a progressive champion to represent Hawaii in Congress, someone like Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who can deliver resources and results for Hawaii.”
The sole candidate in the Republican primary was retired Air Force colonel Shirlene Ostrov, who received 13,645 votes. Also running unopposed were Libertarian Alan Yim (446 votes) and independent Calvin Griffin (552 votes).
In the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and all of the other islands, incumbent Rep. Tulsi Gabbard won the Democratic primary with 80,020 votes (84.53 percent) to grant writer and author Shay Chan Hodges’ 14,643 (15.47 percent).
Gabbard has had a high profile this year as she broke with the Democratic Party establishment and endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, even nominating him at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last month. But like Sanders, she has said that she will vote for Hillary Clinton in November.
She is the first Samoan American congresswoman; the first Hindu member of Congress; and one of the first female combat veterans in Congress along with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). Both served in the Iraq War.
The Republican primary was contested, with Mrs. Hawaii Filipina Ambassadress of Culture Angela Aulani Kaaihue beating minister and Hawaiian nationalist Eric Hafner, 7,449 votes (55.91 percent) to 5,874 (44.09 percent). Kaaiihue has generated controversy with campaign signs stating that she is “cancer-free,” an apparent reference to Takai.
Independent candidate Richard Turner received 697 votes.
Also on the ballot were candidates for three State Senate seats; eight State House seats; Honolulu mayor and two City Council seats; Hawaii County mayor, prosecuting attorney and nine council seats; four council seats in Maui County; Kauai County prosecuting attorney and seven council seats; and three Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee positions.