(ABOVE) Video interview with State Senator Gil Kahele outside the ILWU Local 142 in Hilo
Video by David Corrigan
HILO, Hawaii – State Senator Gil Kahele won the Democratic primary race by a wide margin, defeating challenger Wendell Kaehu’ae’a 7,558 votes to 1,647. The first district senate seat represents Hilo at the State Capitol.
Despite the landslide victory, there was a sullen feeling at the ILWU Local 142 hall on Lanikaula Street in Hilo Saturday night. Team Kahele watched Governor Neil Abercrombie’s bid for re-election come to an end after a convincing primary loss to Senator David Ige. The room was full of Abercrombie supporters. Senator Kahele himself played an important role in the governor’s 2010 victory as Abercrombie’s campaign manager for East Hawaii. Abercrombie later appointed Kahele to the senate seat vacated by Russell Kokubun when Kokubun accepted a position as chair of the State Department of Agriculture.
“This election was a referendum,” commented one supporter watching the governor’s televised concession from Hilo. “It didnt matter who (the opponent) was.”
The referendum appears to have included State Senator Malama Solomon, who last night lost her district 4 senate seat. Her Democratic challenger in the primary was Lorraine Inouye. Solomon, too, was a big supporter of the Governor’s (Abercrombie appointed her to the senate, as well). But Senator Kahele appears to be safe from the public backlash. Kahele noted in our interview conducted outside the hall that he also had a good working relationship with Senator David Ige. The two served on the Senate Ways and Means Committee together.
Now Kahele (and Inouye) move on to the general election, where they will both face a Libertarian opponent. Gregory Kobata Arianoff is running for the district 1 seat. Alain Schiller is running for district 4. In Saturday’s primary, both Libertarian candidates received an average of 30 votes.