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Unopposed Hirono moves on to general election


    U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, shown here with husband Leighton Kim Oshima in April, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who battled cancer and came out strong against some of President Donald Trump’s more divisive policies, didn’t have to fight for Hawaii’s Democratic nomination in today’s primary election.

The 70-year-old former lieutenant governor and U.S. representative, is unopposed for another six-year term.

The Democrat, a U.S. senator since 2013, had 191,101 votes by the end of Primary Election day.

“I’m grateful for the support I’m receiving from the people of Hawaii. But, as always, I take nothing for granted and will continue to work hard to ask for their vote and support,” Hirono said today in an email. “These are not normal times. Protecting Medicare and Social Security, health care, workers’ rights, and a woman’s right to choose remain top priorities for me.”

Hirono said in April that her ongoing cancer treatment had not affected her congressional duties. At the time, Hirono said she was continuing to undergo long-term immunotherapy treatment for thyroid cancer. She disclosed last year that she had kidney cancer and had surgery to remove a kidney and part of her rib.

On the Republican side of the race, retired systems engineer Ron Curtis bested a field of political unknowns to face Hirono.

Political analyst Colin Moore said no one ran against Hirono “because she’s unbeatable.”

“Not only is she quite popular, she obviously has a very serious cancer diagnosis, and so I think for anyone who would have been a serious challenger … I think both the public and the party wouldn’t have forgiven someone who was running against Mazie at this stage of her career,” Moore said.

In the spring of 2017, Morning Consult surveyed 141,400 registered voters to gauge U.S. senator approval ratings. At 67 percent, Hirono had the third-highest approval, behind Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz at 69 percent, and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders at 75 percent.

“She’s had some really strong moments recently” including speaking out on the Senate floor against efforts to derail Obamacare, and against the immigration ban, Moore said, adding that Hirono has been “stronger than I’ve ever seen her in her career.” said in May that at age 70, Hirono “has become one of the surprising avatars of what is known among liberals as the Resistance. She’s not the loudest voice in the Senate or its most polished speaker. But the first-term senator has become one of the most outspoken critics of Trump’s behavior.”

If re-elected, Hirono said she would “continue to fight for the things that are important to the people of Hawaii” — including health care and tax reform “that helps all middle class and working people — not the richest 1 percent and corporations.”

For full Honolulu Star-Advertiser coverage of the 2018 Primary Election, go to

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