HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green won the Democratic primary on Saturday in a tight race against U.S. Rep. Kayali Kahele and former Hawaii first lady Vicki Cayetano.
Green has served as second-in-command for the past four years to Hawaii Governor David Ige, who has already served two terms and is ineligible to run for re-election.
The winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win the general election in a liberal state.
Former Lt. James R. “Duke” Iona won the Republican nomination for governor, defeating mixed martial arts champion BJ Penn and Honolulu City Councilwoman Heidi Sunyoshi.
Iona served as lieutenant governor from 2002 to 2010 during the administration of former governor Linda Lingle. He unsuccessfully ran for governor 12 years ago.
Many voters said Hawaii’s high housing costs were a top concern for them. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the median value of a single-family home increased by $1 million in Honolulu, Maui and Kauai counties.
To address the housing shortage, Greene said he would issue an executive order to remove red tape and enforce existing laws to streamline building approvals and shut down illegal vacation rentals.
Iona said it would eliminate the state Land Use Commission, which it accused of slowing down housing development.
Herbert Rowland, an Oahu construction worker, said he likes Green’s plan to address Hawaii’s housing crisis and homelessness.
“I’m from this island, I’ve been here all my life. “I don’t want my kids to leave this island because it’s too expensive and they can’t afford a home,” Rowland said recently, waving a green campaign sign at passing cars in Honolulu.
Greene was a state senator and representative before serving as lieutenant governor. Before entering politics, he was a doctor in the rural areas of the Big Island. While serving in the state legislature and as lieutenant governor, he continued to work as a part-time physician.
Green followed up with explanations of infection rates and trends and hospital capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state’s largest unions, including the Hawaii Government Employees Union and the Hawaii State Teachers Association, have endorsed his candidacy in the primary.
The race heated up when Kahele and Cayetano questioned Green’s income while he was deputy governor of a limited liability company called Green Health International LLC. Green, who continued to work as an emergency room doctor as lieutenant governor, said the money was for his work as a physician.
Kahele gained attention this year for his work as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines and for his strong representation in Congress. Just like anyone else who voted by proxy, file a necessary letter at the Capitol certifying that they were “unable to vote in person.” He cited a “continuing public health emergency.”
Green was born in Kingston, New York and raised in Pittsburgh. In 2000, he moved to Hawaii with the National Health Service Corps.
Kahele’s decision to run for governor opens up a congressional seat representing rural Oahu and neighboring islands.
Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda defeated state Rep. Patrick Pihana Branco for the Democratic nomination for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District.
Among the Republicans, former US Air Force intelligence analyst and businessman Joe Akana defeated business owner Joseph Webster.
Since Hawaii is a ballot state, since late last month, voters have been mailing in their ballots and placing them in drop boxes throughout the islands. Election clerks in each county have set up a few voter service centers for people who register to vote at the last minute or come in person.
In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Ed Case defeated attorney and political newcomer Sergio Alcubilla in the Democratic primary. Conrad Kress, Patrick Lagay and Arturo Reyes are running for the Republican Party endorsement.
In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz defeated Democratic primary challenger Steve Tatain, a conflict resolution consultant. In 2016, Tatai submitted a request to Congress.
In the Republican primary for the US Senate, state Rep. Bob McDermott defeated five other candidates.
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