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Final push in close Hawaii gov and House races

  • Dennis Oda / Aug. 9
    Manoa residents stood in line to turn in their ballots after voting in the primary election Aug. 9 at Manoa Elementary School. Polling hours for the Nov. 4 general election are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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President Barack Obama is trying to help Hawaii hold on to a Democratic seat in Congress with a recorded message the day before the election that asks voters to support state Rep. Mark Takai in the state’s close House race.

Democrats in Obama’s home state are trying to make a final push to fend off Republicans before Election Day, which features unpredictable races in Hawaii for governor and the U.S. House.

“In an election this close, we can’t afford to give Republicans an advantage just because a handful of folks didn’t vote,” Obama said. “Your vote for Mark Takai will make a real difference in helping us create jobs, guarantee equal pay for women, and make college more affordable.”

Obama’s message was being delivered to voters on a robocall Monday, said Takai’s deputy campaign manager, Alex Hetherington.

Takai is in a tough race with Republican Charles Djou for the seat that will be left vacant by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary.

Ads funded by super PACs flooded the airwaves in Hawaii’s governor race, where three strong candidates and one lesser-known made the race difficult to predict.

Democratic state Sen. David Ige, who toppled Gov. Neil Abercrombie in a historic primary upset, hoped to take the state’s highest office, while Republican James “Duke” Aiona appealed to voters’ Christian values. Two others, Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann and Libertarian Jeff Davis, could shake things up.

Aiona, who was traveling to Oahu’s North Shore Monday, said he felt great about the support he’s felt on the ground, as he headed for a lunch with supporters at a restaurant called Tita’s near Laie.

“Do we want more of the same, with the high cost of living, and underachieving education system, or do we want to change all of that?” Aiona asked. “I hope that our supporters will get out and vote, and let’s make that change.”

The Republican Governors Association has poured $1.8 million into advertisements that portrayed Ige as a tax hiker who would hurt Hawaii’s economy, while the Democratic Governors Association gave money to the super PAC Hawaii Forward, which spent $1.5 million running ads that portray Aiona as an anti-abortion advocate who doesn’t share Hawaii’s values.

Hawaii’s Senate seat is considered safely Democratic, with U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz defending the seat he was appointed to by Abercrombie after Sen. Daniel Inouye died in 2012.

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