The 2016 Primaries

This is for my Political Science students, and may represent for the astute political observer a very rudimentary analysis of this month’s primaries.

2016 was not a good year for progressives. On election night, I followed the results with Ikaika Lardizabal Husseyʻs campaign (he ran for State House to represent Kalihi), and some of his supporters were involved in the Kuleana trainings, which prepared progressive candidates for electoral success. Ikaika was one of those progressive candidates who was unsuccessful, even with the active support of the union Local 5, receiving just 28%to John Mizuno’s 68% (some ballots were blank, but far fewer than in previous elections, when voters only had Mizuno to choose from). Progressives’ best hope was Tiare Lawrence from Maui, and even she was unable to unseat the incumbent. In fact, the only successful progressive candidates were those who were already in office, like Della Bellati of Makiki-Tantalus and Kaniela Ing of South Maui. In a year of “throw the bums out” (what, after all do Trump and Bernie Sanders represent?), this was quite strange. It was as if, on the local level, the message was the reverse.

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Ikaika Lardizabal Hussey

As for Honolulu mayoral race, Kirk Caldwell managed to reverse a 9 point deficit, and defeat Charles Djou and all comers (including former Mayor Peter Carlisle), setting up a showdown in November against Djou. The rhetoric on rail, reached the point of absurdity, with Djou campaigning on the idea of changing the type of rail at this late date – to rubber, rather than steel-on-steel. It seems impractical, and more likely impossible that such a change can happen, but Djou is doing what he feels he must to get elected. Sometimes I wonder if most people in town, East Honolulu and Windward donʻt ever go past Salt Lake and thus donʻt realize that the rail is already built – thereʻs no stopping it – and if Djou is capitalizing on that ignorance, or is even that ignorant himself. Overall, thereʻs not much change to the politics of rail that I donʻt comment on below (from previous election cycles).

As for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs: Mililani Trask’s upset of OHA chair Bob Lindsey may have surprised some, but she was, after all, an OHA trustee in the past. What has been more surprising is the growing support for Kealiʻi Akina, whose platform would undermine OHA main purpose of the last 15 years – the drive for Federal recognition (Fed rec). Itʻs unclear how many voters know that this is his agenda. One could take his vote count – about 100,000, or nearly ten percent of the population – as a measure of the opposition to mainstream Hawaiian goals. To be fair, there are a small number supporters of Akina whoʻse support is precisely the reverse of this – they oppose Fed rec in favor of independence – Keliʻi Makekau, himself a candidate, is an example of this group (Makekau was a plaintiff on the lawsuit that prevented Naʻi Aupuni from ratifying their vote – for more on this, click here).

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1 Comment

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One response to “The 2016 Primaries

  1. Leialoha Perkins

    Of course Djou knows the rail is already built! Djou may have been born a foreigner but he is a graduate of the oldest Ivy League university of the Professional Sciences and Arts, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, founded by that ex-Bostonian Benjamin Franklin. I donʻt know if he is a graduate of Wharton (School of Business, there), but he is very economics minded. At least thatʻs what he sounded like when he gave a talk to the UPʻs “Penn (Alumni) Club some years back. He is very competent, not someone “not past Salt Lake” (or whatever you mean by this –Waiʻanae?). Now, I live in Waiʻanae and Iʻm a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, so please donʻt stereotype. Waiʻanae has more retired Admirals than you can count — and they come here because it is a good and beautiful coastal village-sensed, town grown if not as primed as the l970ʻs.
    Djou is worthy. Not a Trump. Unfortunately, he is for Public Assets turned over to half-sponsorships that are private. To be sure, he would never think of living in Waiʻanae. We have too many Admirals and one time concert pianists, Ace Fighter Pilots in the II WW, Surfing Champions, Writers, pioneer Educators, prize winning Hawaiian Canoe teams, Artists, Gourmet restaurateurs (and their restaurants right in the midst of their gardens [how did you like Kahumana?], determined and gifted whole sale produce farmers, cracker jack Hawaiian fishermen, international youth entrepreneurs, and very gifted and modest entrepreneurs in business and government. Djou would probably help us if we asked him to. But we are too country to ask. Thatʻs two losses in one. And Caldwellʻs gain, comparatively, at his time. But Djou should be in government office. He would be good for Democrats to work with, given his accomplishments, ideas, and committed interests: politics for economic reasons. He needs to understand not everyone recognizes when his ironic “take” on a “Rail on Rubber” which some perhaps did not understand and he did not expect some or many would not. Noteworthily, he lives on the other side of the Koʻolau Mountains.

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