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Tsutsui handily overcomes Hee's challenge

The Democratic incumbent had been in a tight race with the state senator

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:49 p.m. HST, Aug 10, 2014


Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is headed to the general election for a chance to keep his job against his Republican opponent, Elwin Ahu.

Ahu and Tsutsui won the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively, for the state's second highest elected office in Saturday's primary elections.

Tsutsui secured a convincing win over state Sen. Clayton Hee, with former television news reporter Mary Zanakis a distant third. Tsutsui joins Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Ige in the general election.

Ahu easily defeated the only other Republican in the race, Kimo Sutton.

Sutton said it doesn't matter who won, as long as Duke Aiona is on the Republican ticket for governor.

Tsutsui, 42, of Maui, has been the state's lieutenant governor since he ascended to the job in December 2012. He became lieutenant governor after Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose then-Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Dan Inouye.

Before becoming lieutenant governor, Tsutsui was state Senate president, the youngest to hold the job and the first from Maui.

Hee had criticized Tsutsui for increasing the lieutenant governor's budget for opening an office on Maui and for failing to attend three public forums where he had hoped to engage Tsutsui in face-to-face debates.

Tsutsui refused to apologize for being from a neighbor island and blamed scheduling conflicts for not being able to meet Hee in public meetings.

Hee, 61, gave up the last two years of his term in the state Senate for a chance to become the Democratic Party's nominee for lieutenant governor. He ran for the post once before, losing in the 2006 Democratic primary. Hee has also been a state representative and chairman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees. 

Both Ahu and Sutton have previously run but have never held elected office. 

Ahu is a New Hope Metro pastor and former state judge. He joins Aiona, another former state judge, on the Republican ticket.






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