Josh Green has edged out his state Senate colleague, Jill Tokuda, in the five-way Democratic race to be Hawaii’s next lieutenant governor. Green captured 30.3 percent of the vote to Tokuda’s 27.5 percent, with almost all votes counted.
Green will now join the ticket of Gov. David Ige, who staved off a challenge from Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, in the November general election.
“My team put together an extraordinary plan to reach every voter with a message that we care and that this is about service, not politics,” said Green, who added that he knocked on the doors of 20,000 homes. “The combination of sharing an honest message with people and a lot of days walking door to door in my scrubs seems to have made a difference.”
Among the other Democratic primary contenders, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho received 18.7 percent of the vote; Kim Coco Iwamoto, a former member of the Board of Education, 13.6 percent; and former state Sen. Will Espero, 6.2 percent.
In the Republican primary, Marissa Kerns, owner of a shipping and transporation company, narrowly beat Steve Lipscomb, a retired Air Force officer and former manager at Microsoft. Kerns will join Andria Tupola, the Republican nominee in the general election for governor.
The lieutenant governor’s office doesn’t have significant official powers, but candidates in this year’s primary vowed during the campaign to expand the role if elected. Green has said he wants to tackle the state’s homelessness problem, in particular, while Tokuda proposed having the lieutenant governor chair the Board of Education.
The office is often a springboard to higher office, including governor. Both Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono also served as the state’s lieutenant governor before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Green has served in the state Legislature for 14 years, first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate representing Naalehu, Kailua and Kona. He’s also worked as a family physician and emergency room doctor in rural hospitals and clinics. In addition to tackling homelessness, he has said that if elected he wants to focus on the problem of opioid addiction.
Green fought a hard, well-funded campaign that got an extra boost from the super PAC, Be Change Now. Financed by the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, the political action committee has spent more than $1 million on support for Green.
Tokuda has represented Kailua and Kaneohe in the state Senate since 2006, and is the former chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. She scored endorsements from many of the state’s unions, including the Hawaii Government Employees Association, but trailed in the polls.
For full Honolulu Star-Advertiser coverage of the 2018 Primary Election, go to 808ne.ws/SA2018VOTE.