Over the next month we’ll examine the various state and county races, culminating in endorsements before the September 18 primary. This week, we look at the crowded contests for both Governor and Lieutenant Governor; for the first time in eight years, neither race features an incumbent.
Name: Neil Abercrombie
Profile: During his nearly 20-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives, Abercrombie earned a reputation as a consistent liberal voice—pro-choice, pro-gun control, opposed to the Iraq war. Since resigning in February to run for Governor (a decision for which he drew some heat), Abercrombie has made education the central plank of his platform, and recently picked up the endorsement of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Web site: Neilabercrombie.com
Name: Duke Aiona
Profile: A former city attorney and judge, Aiona pushes crime and public safety issues front and center. The two-term Lieutenant Governor also wears his religion proudly on his sleeve; in 2004 he famously told a prayer group that “Hawaii belongs to Jesus,” and he was ardently opposed to civil union bill HB444.
Web site: Dukeaiona.com
Name: John Carroll
Profile: The only Republican challenging Aiona (the presumed and all-but-coronated nominee), Carroll, according to his official bio, moved to Hawaii pre-statehood to play college football, eventually graduating from UH Manoa with a degree in education. His positions are mostly boilerplate conservative—cut taxes, slash government spending, support small businesses and agriculture. He does espouse a desire to protect “our precious environment,” though he’s scant on details.
Web site: Roll4carroll.com
Name: Tony Clapes
Profile: A lawyer and “intellectual property consultant” who moved to Hawaii in 1998, Clapes—who touts himself as an “un-politician”—is hoping that “with the public pretty much fed up with partisan politics, the chances are better that a nonpartison candidate free of the burden of party obligations will succeed.”
Web site: Tonyclapes.net
Name: Daniel Cunningham
Party: Free Energy
Profile: If the Free Energy Party—allegedly based on the ideas of enigmatic 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla—is looking for legitimacy, it may want to look further than Daniel Cunningham. Though Cunningham’s bio on the official party Web site is blank, a search of his name reveals that, in 2008, he came under investigation when a building he was managing collapsed, leaving some 50 people homeless according to a Honolulu Advertiser dispatch. There were also allegations that Cunningham—who previously ran for Mayor of Honolulu—“injected some of his tenants with a substance that he told them would cure ailments and prolong life.”
Web site: Freeenergyparty.net
Name: Mufi Hannemann
Profile: Hannemann, who cut short his second term as Mayor of Honolulu to run for Governor, has picked up a handful of key union endorsements, and according to some polls has a narrow lead over Abercrombie. His biggest Achilles’ heel may be the Honolulu rail system; Hannemann spearheaded the project, but as he left office it was in limbo (though on his Web site, under the heading “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” Hannemann optimistically claims that construction is “poised to begin”).
Web site: Mufihannemann.com
Name: Paul Manner
Profile: Manner challenged Gov. Lingle in the Republican primary in 2006, finishing last in a field of four with less than 1 percent of the vote. Now he’s trying again as a nonpartisan candidate. Judging by how difficult it was to find more information about him, he’s unlikely to make a splash this time around, either.
Web site: Unknown
Name: Thomas Pollard
Profile: A physician, Pollard is also trying to tap into people’s frustration with government, making that—more than any specific policy initiative—the centerpiece of his campaign.
Web site: Tompollard4governor.com
Name: Arturo P. Reyes
Profile: Reyes has four “likes” on his Facebook page as of this writing, suggesting he’s got some catching up to do if he hopes to unseat the frontrunners. But he’s undaunted, as this Facebook post (possibly) suggests: “Please do not be mislead by fallacious, speculative poll results. The Fallacy of Market Place, Bandwagon Rule, & Idol of the Trive is Primitive and within our loins. Decide Wisely and let your conscious be your guide.”
Web site: Facebook.com (search “Arturo P. Reyes”)
Name: Miles Shiratori
Profile: Shiratori obviously enjoys running for office. In 1998 he ran for Governor as a Democrat; in 2004 he ran as a Republican for the District 2 Congressional seat; in 2008, he made a bid for Mayor of Honolulu. Yet despite his extensive campaign experience, we were unable to find an official Web site.
Web site: Unknown
Name: Van Tanabe
Profile: We’re just going to step back and let Van do the talking (via his blog): “As many of you may know ‘2010’ is an election year, and I am running for Governor. Back in 2006 I also ran for office and my slogan back then was ‘Want it Fix? Vote Tanabe 2006!’ Since nothing got better in the last 4 (8)years I could use the same slogan but 2010 doesn’t rhyme with ‘Fix’. So I’m going with ‘Back Again In 2010!’”
Web site: Votetanabe.blogspot.com
Name: Lyla Berg
Profile: Berg’s background is in education (she was a teacher and administrator at Molokai Intermediate and High School, among other institutions) and, as a member of the state House, she served as vice-chair of the Education Committee. In 2008, Berg received a 5 out of 5 rating from Small Business Hawaii, and has also gotten high marks from the state Sierra Club for her environmental record.
Web site: Lylaberg.com
Name: Robert “Bobby” Bunda
Profile: Bunda served for 27 years in the state legislature, including a five-year stint as Senate President (making him the first Filipino American to head up any state legislative body). Bunda’s positions tend to fall in lockstep with the deeply entrenched, pro-union Democratic majority. He’s running on experience, but it’ll be up to voters to decide if that’s an asset or a deterrent.
Web site: Robertbunda.com
Name: Lynn Finnegan
Profile: Having served as Minority Leader of the state House, Finnegan is one of the few rising stars in the Hawaii GOP. Her platform mostly parrots expected talking points—lower taxes, government that “learns to live within its means,” investment in small businesses and alternative energy—but during the recent debate over HB444 she revealed her true colors. “I am opposed to both civil unions and same-sex marriage,” Finnegan wrote in a July Maui News viewpoint. “It is my firm belief that civil unions, as simply a contractual alternative to marriage, undermine the very institution that same-sex couples attempt to resemble.”
Web site: Lynnfinnegan.com
Name: Steve Hirakami
Profile: His profession is listed as “charter school principal,” but other than that we don’t know much about Hirakami, as he doesn’t appear to have an official campaign site.
Web site: Unknown
Name: Gary Hooser
Profile: After cutting his teeth on the Kauai County Council, Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, ascending to the role of Majority Leader. He’s picked up endorsements from the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Hawaii Nurses Association and Progressive Democrats of Hawaii, among other groups. He’s also noted for his environmental record, earning ratings of between 86 and 92 percent from the Sierra Club.
Web site: Garyhooser.com
Name: Leonard Kama
Profile: Again, no campaign Web site, so we can’t tell you much, other than that Kama is married, served on the Neighborhood Board Waianae for a year in the late ’90s and worked in the cruise industry, according to a brief KITV.com profile.
Web site: Unknown
Name: Jon Riki Karamatsu
Profile: A year after earning his law degree on the Mainland in 2001, Karamatsu returned to Hawaii and was elected to the state House from the 41st District. He rose up the ranks, chairing the Judiciary Committee, but was also the subject of controversy in 2007 when he was arrested for DUI after crashing his car into a concrete overpass pillar in the wee hours of the morning. Karamatsu later apologized for the incident, calling it a “serious error in judgement.”
Web site: Jonriki.wordpress.com
Name: Adrienne King
Profile: The only other Republican in the race, Finnegan is an attorney who served for decades as a prosecutor and in private practice on Oahu. She previously ran for the state House and is actively involved in the Republican Party, though, according to her official bio, she believes “that government officials [are] not listening to people’s concerns about the loss of personal liberty and the unprecedented interference of government in too many aspects of life, both in Washington and in Hawaii” and so is “a declared sponsor of the TEA Party movement in Hawaii.”
Web site: Adriennesking.com
Name: Norman Sakamoto
Profile: Yet another state lawmaker who’s tossed his hat in, Sakamoto was elected to the state Senate in 1996, where he chaired the Education and Housing Committee. Sakamoto is generally pro-union, but he’s no liberal—his environmental record is spotty, he earned a B+ rating from the Hawaii Rifle Association and he voted against HB444.
Web site: Sakamotolg.com
Name: Brian Schatz
Profile: Before running unsuccessfully for the District 2 U.S. House seat in 2006, Schatz served four terms as a state Representative, where he was Majority Whip and chair of the Economic Development Committee. Schatz was among the first and most vocal local officials to throw his support behind Barack Obama, and often trots out a campaign photo in which he’s shaking hands with the future President. Schatz has also served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii and was elected chair of the state Democratic Party in 2008.
Web site: Brianschatz.com
Name: Deborah “Jo B” Spence
Party: Free Energy
Profile: According to the party Web site, Spence first met Free Energy Gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cunningham “in Hilo, in front of the health-food store.” Cunningham, apparently, was “collecting signatures for his party,” at which time “Jo B” announced, “I am a Tesla Chick!”
Web site: Freeenergyparty.net