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Next year's mayoral race could be re-run of last year's

By Richard Borreca

LAST UPDATED: 6:27 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Last week it was $1,000 a pop at the Pacific Club; tonight it is $150 to $2,000 for what Mayor Peter Carlisle calls "a star-studded event."

As incumbent Carlisle slips his campaign into gear, it signals the fundraising state of the 2012 race for Honolulu mayor.

Carlisle last year won the job for two years, beating then-acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell and anti-rail leader Panos Prevedouros.

Now Carlisle can serve for two, four-year terms.

The mayor appears to be running a campaign as the angry outsider.

"Steps are being taken to remove the specter of politics from Honolulu Hale," Carlisle says in his campaign fundraising webpage.

"Changing a culture as complex as the city and the culture that supports it takes time. But, if my family and the citizens of Honolulu permit, I am committed to seeing such a major transformation through — even if it takes a decade," Carlisle says, leaving unsaid that 10 years is the length of two mayoral terms plus his two years' filling out Mayor Mufi Hannemann's term.

Tonight, while Carlisle is humming along to the Matt Catingub band plus Monica Mancini, Jim Nabors and Jimmy Borges at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the former GOP rising star might also be thinking about who wants to short-circuit that decade of culture change.

The most formidable so far would be Caldwell, the former state representative and city managing director, who stepped in as acting mayor when Mufi Hannemann resigned to run for governor.

According to state campaign spending reports, Caldwell ended last year with a $177,000 campaign debt, but he is thinking about running against Carlisle again next year.

"I remain very interested in continuing to serve, particularly as mayor of Honolulu," Caldwell said in an interview yesterday. "I am seriously looking at the race," he, said, adding that he has yet to start raising money for a campaign.

Last year, the mayor's race was muddied by the alliances between Caldwell and Hannemann. The former mayor hired Caldwell, but when he left for his own race, Caldwell was never able to free himself from the perception that he was a continuation of the Hannemann administration.

Interestingly, it was Carlisle who kept on some of the key players in Hannemann's Cabinet.

Yesterday, Caldwell said he would not count on support from Hannemann to form the nucleus of his new campaign.

"Last time I had my own group of people; people vote for you because of who you are, not who you are aligned with," Caldwell said.

He added that he expected Hannemann "will be running for a major office" himself next year and won't be able to dabble in other races.

Also expected to run again is Prevedouros, who has run unsuccessfully twice before.

GOP officials say that the party can't support him if there is more than one Republican in next year's race, but already Prevedouros is drawing support from the GOP camp. Because rail is still controversial and lacks wide public consensus, Carlisle and even Caldwell will have trouble finding majority support. Both, however, have remained strong supporters of the city's rail plan, but the public's own division will make support for rail an issue again next year.


Richard Borreca writes on politics every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. He can be reached at

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