Caldwell, Djou head to runoff election in November
  • Tuesday, November 20, 2018
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Caldwell, Djou head to runoff election in November

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM & JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Mayor Kirk Caldwell, left, and former congressman and City Councilman Charles Djou will head to a Nov. 8 runoff election in the race for Honolulu mayor.

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UPDATE 12:15 a.m.: Mayor Kirk Caldwell finished the night with with 44.6 percent of the 166,002 votes cast, good enough for first place but not enough to avoid a runoff in his reelection bid. The primary election’s last results of the night showed the incumbent topping his main rival, former U.S. Rep. and City Councilman Charles Djou, who had 43.7 percent of the votes. Since neither took more than 50 percent of the vote, they will face off Nov. 8.

Former Mayor Peter Carlisle came in a distant third, garnering 9.4 percent of the votes. Caldwell and Djou are sure to be vying for those Carlisle voters over the next three months.

UPDATE 10 p.m.: Mayor Kirk Caldwell and former congressman and City Councilman Charles Djou will head to a Nov. 8 runoff election in the race for Honolulu mayor. With nearly all the Oahu votes counted at 10 p.m., the incumbent had 44.8 percent vs. 42.6 percent for Djou.

Because neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters go on to the general election.

Former Honolulu mayor and city prosecutor Peter Carlisle was far behind with 9.3 percent.

UPDATE 8:42 p.m.: Mayor Kirk Caldwell maintained a slim lead over former congressman and City Councilman Charles Djou in the race for Honolulu mayor, according to the second set of early results from today’s primary election. However, the incumbent still was shy of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid a runoff election against Djou in November.

Caldwell had 45 percent versus 43.3 percent for Djou after results were released about 8:35 p.m. Former Mayor Peter Carlisle, with 9.4 percent, has already conceded defeat. The percentages do not include blank or over votes.

Previous coverage

Early results show Mayor Kirk Caldwell slightly ahead of former congressman and City Councilman Charles Djou in the race for Honolulu mayor, with former Mayor Peter Carlisle a distant third among the field of 11.

Caldwell had 44.6 percent of the vote, Djou had 43.7 percent and Carlisle had 9.5 percent, according to the first results released after the last poll closed tonight. The percentages do not include blank or over votes.

Carlisle wasted no time in conceding after the first results were announced but said he would not support Djou or Caldwell if the two go to a runoff in the general election.

The top two vote-getters advance to the Nov. 8 general election unless the first-place finisher manages to collect 50 percent of the votes cast plus at least one vote. If that happens, he or she is automatically declared the winner and negates the need for a runoff.

The problems encountered by the city’s increasingly expensive rail project loomed over the election, and dominated the conversation at nearly every one of the seven forums or debates the three main candidates attended.

Both Djou and Carlisle accused Caldwell of mismanaging the project, and pointed out its price had risen to an estimated $8 billion from the $5.26 billion it was projected to cost when Caldwell took office in January 2013. But Caldwell argued economics and court delays were to blame for the price hikes, and charged that his opponents were only wont to criticize and could not produce a clearer plan to stretch the line to Ala Moana as promised under the 20-mile plan agreed to with federal transit officials.

As the primary season wound down, it was clear that all three are for the line being built at least to Ala Moana, are hoping for further federal support to do so, and reject the notion of using property taxes to pay for any part of rail construction.

The key differences on the rail issue were that Djou, who had voted against the rail project while on the Council, opposes extending the 0.5 general excise tax beyond 2021 to fund construction while Caldwell and Carlisle haven’t ruled it out, and that Djou appears more willing to change the technology for a rapid-transit means of moving from Middle Street to Ala Moana, while Caldwell and Carlisle believe switching tracks now would be disastrous.

Caldwell touted the progress he made on improving roads, sewers and other infrastructure needs of the city, as well as a parks improvement program and tackling homelessness. Djou and Carlisle questioned his effectiveness on dealing with those issues.

The opponents also accused the incumbent of meddling with the city Ethics Commission and longtime Executive Director Chuck Totto, who resigned in June after publicly stating the Caldwell administration and Corporation Counsel Donna Leong attempted to exert control over management of his office.

Similiar questions were raised by the challengers about Caldwell’s handling of the troubles involving the Honolulu Police Department and Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who is being investigated by federal prosecutors. While Carlisle and Djou said they would have pressed Kealoha to remove himself from office at least temporarily while under investigation while Caldwell said the fate of the chief should be in the hands of the Police Commission.

Caldwell’s favorability and job performance ratings have declined steadily, according to the Hawaii Poll results, but more than half of those polled still had a favorable opinion of him and his job performance.

Campaigning practically nonstop since taking office in January 2013, Caldwell had a big jump on fundraising efforts over both Carlisle, who threw his hat in the ring in May, and Djou, who announced his candidacy in June the day before the deadline to file for office.

The latest reports show Caldwell for Mayor having raised $2.85 million and spent $2.1 million; Djou having raised $484,894 and spent $277,474; and Carlisle having raised $3,824 and spent $3,382.

Caldwell, who began fundraising almost immediately after taking office in 2013, far outgained and outspent his opponents in the election.

Djou, a lifelong Republican in a Democratic-dominant state, fought to present himself as a centrist. That claim was bolstered by endorsements from former Gov. Ben Cayetano, longtime Democratic Party leader Walter Heen, Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and, five trade labor unions that had previously backed Caldwell. All said they were disenchanted by Caldwell’s leadership and felt the need for a change.

The mayor, meanwhile, won endorsements from more than 20 labor unions, current Gov. David Ige and former Gov. George Ariyoshi.

In recent days, state Attorney General Doug Chin waved signs in support of Carlisle, for whom he once served as managing director.

A big question now is what happens to those who supported Carlisle or any of the other eight also-rans in the race.

In the 2012 primary election, former Gov. Ben Cayetano finished first with 90,956 votes, or 44.7 percent of the votes, putting him into a runoff with runner-up Caldwell, who finished with 59,963 votes, or 29.5 percent. Carlisle, the incumbent, had 51,101, or 25.1 percent, and was eliminated.

In the 2012 general election, Caldwell won with 157,714 votes (53.9 percent) over Cayetano’s 134,740 votes (46.1 percent).

Caldwell, 63, was a late-comer to politics first elected in 2002 to the state House of Representatives, where he served until 2008. In 2009, then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann tapped Caldwell to be his managing director, or second in command and Caldwell became acting mayor in summer 2010 when Hannemann resigned to run for governor. Caldwell lost to Carlisle that fall to fill the last two years of Hannemann’s term. In 2012, Caldwell finished second to former Gov. Ben Cayetano in the August primary, which eliminated Carlisle from contention. Caldwell then beat Cayetano in the general when the two went head-to-head that November. An attorney, Caldwell was born in Waipahu, the son of a plantation doctor, and spent most of his youth in Hilo.

Djou, 46, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2010-11 after winning a run-off special election to replace Neil Abercrombie, who resigned to run for governor. Djou, running as a Republican, then lost the seat to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa in 2012 and to Democrat Mark Takai in 2014. Before that, he served eight years on the City Council and two years in the state House of Representatives. A lawyer by profession, he is the local-born son of immigrants. He has been a U.S. Army reservist and was in Afghanistan in 2011-2012 during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Carlisle, also 63, made his name as a deputy prosecutor in the 1980s under former Prosecutor Charles Marsland. After going into private practice for eight years, he ran successfully in 1996 to be Honolulu prosecutor and was reelected three times. He resigned in 2010, midway through his fourth term, to run for the seat left vacant by Hannemann’s resignation. The New Jersey native, in announcing his bid for mayor in May, said this will be his last time seeking political office.

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