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Hawaii races include 2 elections for 1 seat

  • AP PHOTO/CALEB JONES, FILE

    In this July 25, 2016 file photo, former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa speaks during an interview in Honolulu, Hawaii. The death of one of Hawaii’s Congressmen has led to an unusual ballot and voter confusion in urban Honolulu. A rare double election means residents are selecting someone to fill the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s seat for the two-month unfinished term and someone to represent the district for the next two years. Hanabusa is one of the candidates.

Honolulu » Some voters might be confused when they vote as there are two separate elections to replace a congressman who died in office. That could be the biggest issue in otherwise heavily Democratic Hawaii.

Here are some things to look for in this year’s general election in Hawaii:

BLUE OVER RED IN THE RAINBOW STATE

Hawaii has a strong tradition of voting for Democrats, and there are no indications this year will be any different. GOP voters outnumbered Democrats 2-to-1 in the last presidential election. There is only one state Senate seat held by a Republican, Sam Slom, who has represented his district for 20 years. The wealthy district and its neighboring precincts are known for sending the state’s few Republicans to office. If he loses his seat to Stanley Chang, a 34-year-old Democrat, Hawaii could become the first state in the nation to have a one-party legislative body in decades. The last time a party held all the seats in any state Legislature was 1980, when state Senates in Alabama and Louisiana were completely Democratic.

TWO ELECTIONS, ONE SEAT

Voters in Honolulu face an unusual ballot this Election Day. U.S. Rep. Mark Takai died in office last July, and residents on Tuesday will select someone to fill his seat for the remaining two months of his term. They’re also choosing a candidate to represent the district for the next two years. The two elections, combined with voter confusion, could wind up with two different people winning the same House seat on election night, to serve the two different terms.

U.S. HOUSE SEAT

Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is running and wants to return to the seat she gave up to run for Senate. Hanabusa served in the U.S. House from 2011 until 2015. She had given up her House seat to run for Senate, but lost to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. In the Second Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is running for re-election. She’s facing Republican challenger Angela Aulani Kaaihue, whose Republican Party membership was revoked because she’s also running as a Democrat in the special election to finish Takai’s term.

U.S. SENATE SEAT

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is largely seen as a shoo-in for keeping his seat in Washington as the incumbent faces Republican John Carroll. The win would give Schatz his first full term in the U.S. Senate. When Hawaii’s Sen. Daniel Inouye died in 2012, it was left to then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the seat. Inouye’s dying wish was to have then-U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa fill the seat, but Abercrombie instead chose Schatz, his lieutenant governor. Carroll, a longtime Hawaii resident, served as a Hawaii lawmaker five times, four in the House and once as a state senator. He is an Army veteran of the Korean War, was an Air Force fighter pilot and has been a commercial pilot for Hawaiian Airlines.

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