POSTED: 9:17 p.m. HST, Nov 6, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 12:43 a.m. HST, Nov 7, 2012
Riding the strength of President Barack Obama’s re-election, Democrats strengthened their dominance at the state Legislature, picking up one seat in the House while maintaining their 24-1 stronghold in the Senate.
Three incumbents — Democrat Rep. Marilyn Lee and Republican Reps. George Fontaine and Corinne Ching — lost their bids for re-election Tuesday, ousted by relative newcomers.
In two of the more high-profile Senate races, two Democrats — Sen. Clayton Hee and Laura Thielen, a former Cabinet member under Republican Gov. Linda Lingle — beat out their Republican challengers.
In two of the closest races in the House, Republican Bob McDermott, a former House member, beat his Democrat challenger Chris Kalani Manabat by 138 votes in District 40’s Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point, while Republican Lauren Cheape, a former Miss Hawaii, bested her Democratic opponent Jake Bradshaw by 67 votes in District 45, which includes Mililani, Schofield and Kunia.
Mililani District Park, which is part of House District 45, is one of the precincts that ran out of ballots Tuesday afternoon.
Hee, 59, topped his Republican opponent, former House member Colleen Meyer, 73, by more than 800 votes, capturing 50.9 percent of the total in the 23rd District covering Heeia, Laie and Waialua.
In the 25th District spanning Hawaii Kai, Waimanalo and Kailua, Thielen, 51, who served under Lingle but caused a stir when she signed up to run as a Democrat, defeated former Sen. Fred Hemmings, 66. Thielen tallied 57.1 percent of the vote.
House Speaker Calvin Say, a Democrat, recaptured his seat, fending off two challengers, including Keiko Bonk, a Green Party candidate backed by the local hotel workers union and the Sierra Club.
Rep. Marilyn Lee, 72, the only Democrat incumbent to lose, was bested by Beth Fukumoto, 29, research director for House Republicans, in the fight to represent Mililani’s District 36. Fukumoto picked up 51 percent of the vote.
Fontaine, 52, lost to Democrat Kaniela Ing, 23, a former legislative aide, in South Maui’s District 11, while Ching, 51, was beat by Takashi Ohno, 28, an elementary school teacher, in District 27, which includes Nuuanu, Liliha and Alewa Heights on Oahu.