The state Senate’s lone Republican Sam Slom has been ousted by former Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang who led 51 percent to 45 percent with all precincts reporting, making Hawaii the only state in the nation with an entirely Democratic state Senate.
Slom, 74, known for his impassioned speeches on the floor of the Legislature railing against tax increases and government spending, has served the East Honolulu area, from Hawaii Kai to Kahala and Diamond Head, for five terms.
Chang, 34, a Harvard Law School graduate who grew up in the Kahala area, waged a grassroots campaign, saying he knocked thousands of doors.
Chang is viewed as a progressive within the Democratic Party, while Slom has trumpeted traditional Republican values and is known for his advocacy for small business interests.
Republican Feki Pouha, who represents Oahu’s North Shore in the state House of Representatives, was also narrowly ousted by Democratic challenger Sean Quinlan, 49 percent to 47 percent.
There were nine Senate seats and 30 House seats up for grabs in this year’s general election. Except for Rep. Jo Jordan, who lost during the August primary, the rest of the state Legislature’s incumbents appear to have retained their seats.
Political newcomer Cedric Gates, who ousted Jordan in the primary, has beat Republican Marcus Paaluhi, pulling in 62 percent of the votes, for the House seat representing Makaha, Waianae and Makua.
The race has been controversial, with the Hawaii Democratic Party asserting earlier this year that Gates shouldn’t have been able to run as a Democrat because he had run in 2014 as a Green Party candidate. Under party rules, this should have barred him from the party for three years. However, party officials said that they didn’t notice the error in time and Gates remained on the ballot as a Democrat.
Democrat Nadine Nakamura will take the place of Rep. Derek Kawakami representing Hanalei, Princeville and Kapaa on Kauai. Kawakami ran for a seat on the Kauai County Council instead this year, which he is expected to win.
Nakamura, a former Kauai County councilwoman and managing director under Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho held 66 percent of the votes to Republican challenger Sandra Combs’ 25 percent.
Sen. Kai Kahele dominated Libertarian challenger Kimberly Arianoff for the Senate seat representing Hilo, pulling in 83 percent of the votes. Kahele was appointed to the seat by Gov. David Ige earlier this year following the sudden death of his father, Sen. Gil Kahele, from a heart attack.
Rep. Karl Rhoads has also easily beat former Honolulu City Councilman Rod Tam, 67 percent to 23 percent, for the Senate seat representing downtown Honolulu, Nuuanu, Iwilei and Liliha. The seat was left vacant by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, who chose not to seek reelection.
Tam, who was convicted in 2011 for stealing city funds and violating campaign spending laws, tried to launch a political comeback this year as a Republican. He served as a Democrat in the state House from 1982 to 1994 and in the state Senate from 1994 to 2002, before being elected to the Honolulu City Council where he served until an unsuccessful mayoral bid in 2010.
Rhoads, an attorney, served as a member of the House of Representatives representing Chinatown, Iwilei and Kalihi for a decade and served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee since 2013.
Democrat Daniel Holt will take Rhoads’ place in the House after beating Republican Kaiwiola Coakley.
In other key races, Democrat Rep. Matt LoPresti is beating Republican challenger Bryan Jeremiah 55 percent to 37 percent for the House seat representing Ewa, with three out of four precincts reporting.
That race turned ugly at times, with both at one point seeking restraining orders against the other.
LoPresti is an associate professor of philosophy and humanities at Hawaii Pacific University. Jeremiah is a project manager at PEI Construction.
House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang, a moderate Republican, has easily fended off a challenge from former Democratic state Rep. Marilyn Lee for the House seat representing Mililani. Fukumoto Chang has 65 percent of the vote to Lee’s 32 percent.
This is the third time that Lee has attempted to win back the seat that she once held.
Fukumoto Chang was criticized earlier this year by some of her Republican House colleagues who charged that she was too accommodating to ruling House Democrats. The party tension grew last summer when a crowd of delegates at the Republican state convention in Waipahu booed Fukumoto Chang when she announced from the convention stage that she could not support Donald Trump for president.
Lee served in the state House as a Democrat for 16 years up until 2012 when she was ousted by Fukumoto Chang. Lee has a long history of community involvement, serving as chairwoman of the Mililani Neighborhood Board and as a member of the state Commission on the Status of Women.