Given the strong mobilization of voters for the GMO Initiative, you’d expect more of an impact on the rest of the couple dozen local races on the ballot. But no. In fact, no Maui County incumbent lost on election night.
The pro-GMO Initiative people even put together a slate of candidates–with the exception of incumbent Maui County Councilmember Elle Cochran, all of them lost by overwhelming margins.
Looking at the votes, it’s clear that a larger segment of the island’s electorate than usual showed up, voted on the GMO measure, and took a pass on the rest of the ballot.
Councilmember Bob Carroll (East Maui) easily beat back Initiative backer Nick Nikhilananda. Don Couch (South Maui) easily beat Initiative supporter John Fitzpatrick. Gladys Baisa (Upcountry) easily defeated Initiative supporter Courtney Bruch.
What’s more, I’d argue that Cochran’s victory over newcomer Ka‘ala Buenconsejo–who benefited from tens of thousands of dollars in ad buys from two pro-development Honolulu SuperPACs (Forward Progress and Maui Timeshare Ohana)–had more to do with her being a popular incumbent than the GMO Initiative.
Mayor Arakawa also easily won reelection against his challenger, county lifeguard and GMO Initiative supporter Tamara Paltin. For someone who never for any office before, Paltin did well, and we hope we see her run for office again. But Arakawa–who lost his 2006 bid for reelection–has been working to ensure a victory for at least the last two years. He not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Paltin, but secured numerous, extremely valuable union endorsements that translated into substantial votes.
But Arakawa’s victory was a lonely one. Two of his aides–Mike Molina and Joe Pontanilla (who are themselves former Maui County Councilmembers)–lost their bids to unseat Councilmembers Mike White and Don Guzman, respectively. Councilman Mike Victorino also easily beat challenger Joe Blackburn, who also lost to Victorino two years ago.
So to recap–the Maui GMO Initiative passed, but nothing whatsoever changes in regards to the Maui County Mayor and County Council.
Voters continued their commitment to incumbents in state races. Democratic State Senators Gil Keith-Agaran (5th District) and Roz Baker (6th District) easily beat back their challengers. State Representatives Joe Souki (8th District), Angus McKelvey (10th District), Kaniela Ing (11th District) and Kyle Yamashita (12th District) all beat back their challengers by 30 percentage points or more.
As for the Governor’s race, Civil Beat ran a poll a week ago showing Democrat David Ige (who few voters could have picked out of a police lineup six months ago) leading the pack with 40 percent to Republican James “Duke” Aiona’s 34 percent and Independent Mufi Hannemann’s 11 percent. The end result was an even bigger blowout, with Ige winning with 51.4 percent of the vote. The lesson here, kids, is that having a “D” next to your name in a statewide race is about the biggest advantage you can have.
One more state race of note: of the five constitutional amendments on the ballot, the two the showed the clearest results concerned the state judiciary. Voters clearly, overwhelming backed measures that will force the public disclosure of judicial nominees and keep the current mandatory judicial retirement age at 70.
The nationwide trend in the election was clearly conservative, with Republicans easily winning control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. For environmentalists, this looks to be a disaster–on Nov. 4, Slate.com ran a story saying that a Republican Senate might just mean Senator James Inhofe will chair the Environment and Public Works Committee and Senator Ted Cruz will take over the Committee on Science and Space. Both are adamant climate change deniers.
But none of that appeared here. In Hawaii, voters overwhelmingly chose incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and Congressional Representative Tulsi Gabbard (2nd District). In fact, even the 1st District Congressional race on Oahu–which had been a virtual tie between Democrat Mark Takai and Republican Charles Djou–ended up going to Takai by 7,000 votes or so.
Photo of David Ige courtesy Ige campaign Facebook page