POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 12:59 p.m. HST, Aug 14, 2012
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano won 33 of the 35 legislative House districts on Oahu on his way to becoming the top vote-getter in the mayoral primary election Saturday.
The remaining two districts were won by former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell, who finished second, ahead of the incumbent, Peter Carlisle.
Although Cayetano had a strong showing across the island, it was not enough to give him more than 50 percent and an outright victory.
He and Caldwell advance to a runoff in the general election on Nov. 6.
Cayetano, the anti-rail candidate, led with 90,944 votes, or 44.7 percent. Caldwell was next with 59,955 for 29.5 percent. Carlisle finished with 51,087 votes, for 25.1 percent.
A fourth candidate, Khistina Caldwell DeJean, received 1,289 votes, less than 1 percent.
As the vote totals came in Saturday night, Cayetano said he had never experienced the level of enthusiasm from supporters as he had in this, his ninth campaign for office.
"I feel pretty good," Cayetano said Sunday at the state Democratic Party's traditional post-primary Unity Breakfast. "I'm a Democrat but my race is nonpartisan, so I'm going to just run my race."
With Carlisle out, Caldwell is now the sole pro-rail voice and already has the backing of labor groups, including endorsements from 20 public and private unions. While his totals combined with Carlisle's would be enough to top Cayetano, Caldwell said he understands it is not a foregone conclusion those voters will show up for him in the general election.
"I see myself as someone who needs to work tremendously hard," Caldwell said Sunday.
"I'm running against a man who was a two-time governor, two-time lieutenant governor, 38 years in elected office, a formidable candidate, can raise money like no one else, and I have to work real hard.
"I think if I do what I need to do, I'll be in the race on election day."
A breakdown of House districts shows Caldwell will have to work harder in areas farther from the proposed 20-mile, Kapolei-to-Ala Moana rail route.
Cayetano fared best in the places where the rail won't run, including Nuuanu, Punchbowl, Moiliili, Waikiki, McCully, Kaimuki, Diamond Head, Kahala, Aina Haina and Hawaii Kai.
The vote count was somewhat similar in the North Shore and Windward districts, with Cayetano winning most of those convincingly, topping out at 54 percent in District 50 (Kailua-Kaneohe).
Even in Manoa, Caldwell's home district, Cayetano took 44 percent, compared with Caldwell's 37 percent.
Yet Cayetano also did well in District 30 (Sand Island-Kalihi-Airport), which is due to have a rail segment, winning 62 percent of the vote.
Caldwell took two districts in Central Oahu — Districts 33 (Halawa-Aiea-Newtown) and 36 (Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) — but even there he was only a few percentage points ahead of Cayetano.
Caldwell finished with 37 percent in District 33, just 3 percentage points ahead of Cayetano, and he took District 36 with 35 percent, just 1 percentage point over Cayetano and 4 percentage points higher than Carlisle.
The former city managing director and acting mayor for four months in 2010 was more competitive in traditionally Democratic areas of Central Oahu from Halawa, Pearl City and Mililani to Waipio, Waikele and Waipahu.
Carlisle was competitive with Caldwell in virtually all of the districts, topping him for second in at least six districts and losing by only a few percentage points in the rest.
The incumbent managed 30 percent in just four districts, three near the heart of the rail line: Districts 40 (Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point), 41 (Ewa Beach-West Loch Estates) and 42 (Kapolei-Makakilo).
While Caldwell said he plans to court Carlisle voters, Cayetano said he hopes to attract 6 percent to 7 percent more new voters in the general election, when he expects more Republicans and independents to cast ballots than did in the primary.
Although the race is nonpartisan, Cayetano and Caldwell are stalwart members of the Democratic Party.
The party camaraderie was on display Sunday, as both attended the party's traditional post-primary Unity Breakfast.
As a show of unity, Cayetano also sat at the same table as U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
In the first debate of the mayoral campaign, Cayetano had called Inouye "out of touch" on the issue of rail and how it would affect seniors and others struggling to make ends meet.
Inouye supports rail, but he did not endorse either candidate in the primary. He visited Caldwell's headquarters Saturday and said he looked forward to working with him.
At Sunday's breakfast, Inouye did not make a formal endorsement.
"Well, it's not decided yet, but whoever becomes mayor, I will do whatever I can to be of help," Inouye said. "But I can assure you that I'm for rail, and I've been for rail for the past 35 years."
Correction: A previous version of this story listed an incorrect vote total for Kirk Caldwell.