Hawaii elections: Aiona wins GOP nomination for governor, Dems back Green; Schatz to face McDermott for Senate

Hawaii elections: Aiona wins GOP nomination for governor, Dems back Green; Schatz to face McDermott for Senate

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Hawaiians made their voices heard Saturday when voters cast ballots to decide dozens of elections across the state.

Primaries for Democrats and Republicans were held to decide general election showdowns this November for governor, lieutenant governor, their two U.S. House of Representatives seats as well as state and local elections.

Hawaii Governor

Hawaii Gov. David Ige served two four-year terms and was ineligible to run again, setting up an open ballot for his replacement.

Former Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona was declared the winner of the Republican primary for Hawaii governor, a victory he later described as “a miracle.”

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Former Hawaii Lt. Gov. James R. "Duke" Aiona waves at passing cars while campaigning in Kailua, Hawaii on Aug. 9, 2022. 

Former Hawaii Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona waves at passing cars while campaigning in Kailua, Hawaii on Aug. 9, 2022.  (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

He defeated former UFC champion and legend B.J. Penn and Honolulu City Councilperson Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

Aiona served as lieutenant governor under former Gov. Linda Lingle’ from 2002 to 2010.

Following his service in Lingle’s administration in 2010, he ran for governor and secured his party’s nomination but ultimately lost that year to Democrat Neil Abercrombie.

BJ Penn poses with all five of his UFC championship belts and several of his fight posters at his family's home on May 30, 2015, in Hilo, Hawaii. 

BJ Penn poses with all five of his UFC championship belts and several of his fight posters at his family’s home on May 30, 2015, in Hilo, Hawaii.  (Hollyn Johnson/Hawaii Tribune-Herald via AP, File)

Since leaving office and following the failed campaign, Aiona resumed his private law practice. He has also hosted the 808 State Update Talk Radio and served as university adjunct faculty.

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On the Democratic ticket, current Lt. Gov. Josh Green won his party’s primary for Hawaii governor, defeating U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele and former Hawaii first lady Vicky Cayetano.

Green, who has served under Hawaii Gov. David Ige for the past four years, was previously a state senator, representative, and physician.

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, left, and his wife, Jamie, greet passing cars while campaigning in Honolulu on Aug. 2, 2022. 

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, left, and his wife, Jamie, greet passing cars while campaigning in Honolulu on Aug. 2, 2022.  (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Aiona is the son of a Portuguese-Hawaiian father and a first-generation Chinese mother while Green was born in Kingston, New York, and was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The two lieutenant governors will square off in November, where Green is already considered a favorite to win the general election as Hawaii is a liberal state. 

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In their respective primaries, Green garnered just over 136,000 votes while Aiona received a comparatively smaller 29,000.

U.S. Senate

In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Brian Schatz won the Democratic primary with 94 percent of the vote.

Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott won his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, beating five other challengers, Hawaii News Now reported.

U.S. House of Representatives — 1st District

In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent U.S. Rep. Ed Case easily defeated a challenge from attorney and political newcomer Sergio Alcubilla in the Democratic primary, News Now reported.

A general view shows Waikiki and Honolulu, Hawaii, from the Diamond Head crater on February 20, 2022. 

A general view shows Waikiki and Honolulu, Hawaii, from the Diamond Head crater on February 20, 2022.  (DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Among Republicans, Conrad Kress held a comfortable lead with 48 percent over Arturo Reyes (30 percent) and Patrick Largey (24 percent), per the report.

U.S. House of Representatives — 2nd District

After Kaiali’i Kahele vacated his position representing Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in a bid to become the state’s next governor, six Democrats and three Republicans stepped up to take his place.

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On Saturday evening, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda secured the Democratic primary win, News Now reported.

An aerial view from the window of a plane shows Diamond Head crater in Oahu, Hawaii on February 23, 2022. 

An aerial view from the window of a plane shows Diamond Head crater in Oahu, Hawaii on February 23, 2022.  (DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Tokuda, a well-known politician, initially ran for lieutenant governor before joining the congressional race after Kahele announced he was not seeking re-election. She defeated state Rep. Patrick Pihana Branco.

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In the Republican primary, former U.S. Air Force intelligence analyst and businessman Joe Akana won his party’s primary, defeating business owner Joseph Webster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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