Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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Carlisle holds strong lead

By B.J. Reyes


Be they Democratic, Republican or independent voters, Peter Carlisle appears to have support from all three camps heading into the final weeks of the special election for Honolulu mayor.

Asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Carlisle, 66 percent of voters who usually vote Democratic said they had a favorable opinion of the former Honolulu prosecutor, according to a poll commissioned by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now.

Among Republicans, 65 percent rated him as favorable, as did 73 percent of independent voters, the poll found.

"I'm extremely gratified to see that," Carlisle said yesterday. "I think all of that's very good news, and I'm happy to see those numbers because I think to get over our problems that we've got in the immediate future, we need to make sure everybody knows they're included.

"This shows that Democrats, Republicans and independents know they're included."

Overall, respondents gave Carlisle a 67 percent favorability rating, compared with 46 percent for his closest challenger, acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The other two major candidates, University of Hawaii engineering professor Panos Prevedouros and City Councilman Rod Tam, were viewed as favorable by 26 percent and 9 percent of poll respondents, respectively.

The telephone poll of 430 likely voters on Oahu was conducted Aug. 10 to last Tuesday by Ward Research Inc. of Honolulu. It has a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points.


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Through his role as acting mayor and a series of television, radio and direct mail ads, Caldwell has raised his profile significantly since January, when a similar poll pegged his favorability at 11 percent.

"We have momentum on our side," Lex Smith, Caldwell campaign chairman, said in a statement. "Our internal polls also show us trailing, but definitely within striking distance. ... As people learn more about Kirk and the job he is doing as their mayor, it is resonating with them, and we believe by the time we get to election day, voters will know they have real choice, and they will choose the person who is already on the job, doing the job, and that is Kirk Caldwell."

Since becoming acting mayor on July 20, when Mufi Hannemann resigned to run for governor, Caldwell has been a visible figure in and out of Honolulu Hale, attending various recognition ceremonies and holding a number of press conferences, including two yesterday.

He still faces a significant challenge if he hopes to succeed Hannemann permanently.

When asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 49 percent of poll respondents said Carlisle. Caldwell received 25 percent; Prevedouros, 11 percent; and Tam, 4 percent. Eleven percent were either undecided or declined to say.

"It really isn't a contest anymore," said University of Hawaii political scientist Neal Milner. "It's extraordinarily hard for anybody to overcome that kind of lead.

"I'm not sure how you do it. It's not so much that he lacks the capability -- I don't know if anybody has the capability to do what has to be done there."

Prevedouros did not concede, saying internal polls indicate the race to be closer than some might think.

"The polls we have seen that incorporate independent and conservative voters show a dramatically different result," Prevedouros said in a statement. "We know from our daily feedback that the momentum is on our side.

"The people are quickly understanding that the choice this election is between a machine candidate, a lawyer supporting fiscally irresponsible projects, and an engineer who will stop the rail, reduce taxes, and reduce congestion and fix our infrastructure."

Tam did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Carlisle had broad support among men and women and across all ethnicities.

He also scored high among those who said they were union members, with 70 percent of them rating him as favorable. Caldwell's favorability rating among union members was 46 percent.

Caldwell has received some of the higher-profile union endorsements, including from the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and the Hawaii Firefighters Association.

Carlisle counts the Hawaii Carpenters Union among his major backers but noted, "There's a difference between an endorsement and union members.

"I think you'll discover that the union members who worked with me (as prosecutor) were, by and large, treated with the kind of respect and dignity they deserved, and they were very, very supportive of me personally while I was there and now during the campaign," he said. "I'm happy about this because I'm a manager who has the rank and file supporting me."

Meanwhile, Carlisle also received the backing of former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who is not running for office this fall, but has been supporting candidates. Over the weekend, Case threw his support behind Neil Abercrombie in the governor's race.

In a letter to supporters yesterday, Case called Carlisle "a clear thinker and straight talker, willing and able to ask tough questions, find better solutions and make hard decisions. He's independent, works well with diverse folks, and has no political agenda other than making government work."

Carlisle said he did not seek the endorsement or work with Case on the announcement, but welcomed the support.

Case added, "Kirk Caldwell has an attractive resume, but he's been a follower, not a leader, throughout his political career. He is the product and clear choice of a political machine that must end."

He also praised Prevedouros for his "fresh thinking and independence."

"He and Carlisle are the change candidates against a status quo Caldwell," Case said. "I don't want that vote to be split at the risk of Caldwell prevailing."

Caldwell's campaign declined comment. Pre-vedouros said that while he disagrees with Case's endorsement, he appreciated the kind words for his candidacy.

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