Former Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro overcame a late start to his campaign and rode his name recognition to win the race for Honolulu prosecutor.
"We came a long way in a short time," Kaneshiro told about 250 supporters last night in a conference room of the Bishop Street Topa Financial Tower.
Kaneshiro said experts claimed he was winning because of his name recognition as the two-term prosecutor in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"They’re right. People remember my name and recognize all the things that I did."
Kaneshiro will serve two years, the remainder of former city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle’s term. Carlisle resigned to run for mayor.
Kaneshiro received 76,999 votes. Longtime city Deputy Prosecutor Franklin Pacarro Jr. garnered 58,732 votes and Darwin Ching received 28,554. Ching resigned this summer from his job as Gov. Linda Lingle’s labor director to run in the race.
Kaneshiro announced his candidacy in July after Carlisle resigned.
Kaneshiro, who also served as Gov. Ben Cayetano’s director of the Department of Public Safety, credited campaign supporters who held signs and got the message out that he was in the race.
He also credited the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which he said was a "strong supporter."
Kaneshiro said some Democratic leaders might have helped, and he’s "appreciative of the Democratic vote."
Kaneshiro won elections in 1988 and 1992, then decided not to run for a third term. He challenged Carlisle in 2004 but lost.
He said he decided to run because of what he sees as the worsening drug problem, which he said would be his "No. 1 priority."
"I will not let the problem of drug abuse get swept under the carpet," he said. "People will hear about this and we will address it."
Pacarro announced early that he was running for the office, garnered most of the major union endorsements and raised the most cash going into the home stretch of the campaign.
He was also endorsed by Carlisle.
Pacarro said his campaign tried to stay positive. He said name recognition probably helped Kaneshiro, but said he thought another factor might have been television advertisements by Ching, focusing on the state appeals court setting aside a murder conviction in a case Pacarro handled.
"I think the negative ads that Ching did might have helped Keith," Pacarro said.
The race was the first winner-take-all midterm election since the position became an elective office in 1980.
During the relatively shorter campaign period, the three candidates all saw the drug problem as a top priority and sought to differentiate themselves by highlighting their background and experience.
Ching, a former city deputy prosecutor, portrayed himself as the candidate who would bring a new approach to the office.
Pacarro and Kaneshiro stressed their experience and qualifications in their ads, but Ching aired TV ads critical of the two — Pacarro for the murder case and Kaneshiro for the costs of an investigation when he was prosecutor in the 1990s.