One of Hawaii’s largest labor unions representing blue-collar workers endorsed Gov. David Ige today in this year’s gubernatorial race. The United Public Workers union represents about 14,000 members employed at facilities such as schools, hospitals and correctional facilities throughout the state.
“Governor Ige is the people’s candidate,” said UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua in a press release that praised the governor’s commitment to government accountability, oversight of government contracts, a crackdown on tax fraud and efforts to increase affordable housing as some of the reasons for the endorsement.
Ige is in a tough race against Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to secure a second term as governor in an election that is likely to be decided in the Democratic primary on Aug. 11.
The endorsement is one of many being announced this week as this year’s primary season intensifies.
The Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state’s largest union with approximately 42,000 members, today endorsed state Sen. Jill Tokuda for the lieutenant governor’s race. Democratic challengers include state Sen. Josh Green, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto and Will Espero, who recently resigned his state senate seat.
“HGEA’s leadership recognized Jill’s commitment to working families and her support of HGEA values and priorities throughout her elected career,” HGEA executive director Randy Perreira said in a press release. “She’s always stood on the side of workers and we are confident that Jill will continue to fight for all who are finding it hard to maintain a quality standard of living.”
Tokuda called the endorsement “deeply personal,” noting that her mother was an HGEA member when she passed away.
State Rep. Beth Fukumoto also secured a major endorsement today from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents university faculty, in the congressional race to replace Hanabusa. This is the first major endorsement for Fukumoto who made headlines last year when she left the Republican Party to become a Democrat following harsh criticism she levied against President Trump.
UHPA president Lynne Wilkins cited Fukumoto’s understanding of collective bargaining laws, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and issues relating to faculty retention, as well as Fukumoto’s leadership skills, as reasons for the endorsement.
Other Democrats running for the 1st Congressional District seat representing urban Oahu include Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, state Rep. Kaniela Ing, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin, former Hawaii congressman Ed Case and Sam Puletasi, a retired immigration agent for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Earlier this week, UHPA also endorsed Hanabusa in the governor’s race.
“Our endorsement was based on input from faculty as well as Colleen’s solid track record of support for public higher education in Hawaii,” Wilkens said. “We need a governor who is predictable, driven by consistent values, decisive, collaborative, and has the integrity to keep promises — all of the qualities that Colleen has demonstrated during her years as a leader in the legislature and in Congress.”