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Highlights from Hawaii’s 2012 Primary Election

And that’s a wrap for Hawaii’s 2012 primary election. A mixture of old and new faces ascended to the forefront of the state’s political scene. It’s what analysts are calling Hawaii’s most exciting election year with so many seats up for grabs and issues like the steel-on-steel rail continuing to heat things up in the community.

Here are the winning candidates for the 2012 primary election:

  • HONOLULU MAYOR: Benjamin Cayetano (90,944 votes • 44.73%)
  • BIG ISLAND MAYOR: Billy Kenoi (18,390 votes • 43.15%)
  • U.S. SENATE (D): Mazie Hirono (134,724 votes • 57.67%)
  • U.S. SENATE (R): Linda Lingle (44,245 votes • 91.63%)
  • U.S. HOUSE DIST. 2 (D): Tulsi Gabbard (62,869 votes • 55.08%)

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano led the election from the first voting printout, with about 45 percent; former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell was right behind him with about 30 percent and Mayor Peter Carlisle at 25 percent. This means Cayetano will be facing Caldwell in the November general election because he fell short of the 50 percent majority vote needed for an outright win.

Sen. Daniel Akaka’s announcement that he’d be retiring after 22 years in the Senate opened up a contest for the empty seat. A political analyst on Hawaii News Now remarked on the rarity of this, which may happen only once every generation.

Also an unusual occurrence during the election, Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a proclamation ordering all of the Big Island’s polling places to remain open until 7:30 p.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m. About 25 sites there didn’t open on time today, causing the time extension. A similar proclamation had been issued in 1996 by then-Gov. Cayetano because of heavy rains. Today’s proclamation, in turn, led to a delay in the Big Island printout. Both current Mayor Billy Kenoi and former-mayor Harry Kim be facing each other in the general election, as Kenoi didn’t get the majority vote of 50 percent.

Whether Hawaii visitors realize it or not, these elected figures have a huge impact on what their next vacation to the islands will be. For instance, the rail. It’s one of the deciding topics in this year’s election process. Cayetano is anti-rail while Caldwell’s campaign pushes the slogan, “Build Rail Better.” Will the rail lead to less traffic on the roadways and an easier way for tourists to explore the islands? Or will it deface those famous postcard views of Hawaii with its concrete slab decor? We’ll just have to see what fate awaits the islands in the following months and years to come.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher on Aug 12, 2012