Gov. David Ige swept two-thirds of the House districts across the state on his way to a win over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary election Saturday, with Hanabusa claiming half of the neighbor islands and a sizable portion of Leeward Oahu.
Precinct-by-precinct breakdowns of state House districts, which allow onlookers to gauge how the gubernatorial candidates did in specific regions, show Hanabusa also won three districts in urban Honolulu, but it was not enough to counter Ige’s strength in Oahu’s urban population center.
Ige finished the primary race with 124,528 votes to Hanabusa’s 107,583, allowing him to advance to face Republican House Minority Leader Andria Tupola in the general election Nov. 6.
Many of the state’s Democrats gathered Sunday at the Pomaikai Ballroom at Dole Cannery for their traditional Unity Breakfast, with winners gingerly rubbing elbows with losers from the primary campaigns for offices including the U.S. Congress, state Legislature and offices of governor and lieutenant governor.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Kealii Lopez described the Democrats as “one big family.”
In one of the lighter moments of the breakfast, state Sen. Josh Green took the microphone to jokingly express his hope that he and state Sen. Will Espero “will do a doobie together” as part of the political healing process, noting that Espero has extensive experience dealing with the issue of medical marijuana.
Both Espero and Green were running for lieutenant governor, and Green emerged from the primary as the Democratic nominee. Green praised each of his opponents in turn, including Espero, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto and state Sen. Jill Tokuda.
In a series of pointed jokes that made some in the audience wince,
former Gov. Neil Abercrombie dismissed any suggestion that the Democrats have lost their continuity or values.
“David Ige and Neil Abercrombie are living proof of the legacy of the Democratic Party, particularly as governor,” Abercrombie said. “After all, David took most of the accomplishments of the Abercrombie administration and ran on them this cycle.”
As the audience laughed and clapped, Abercrombie said, “Did I get that right, though? That didn’t come out right, David, did it? That didn’t come out right.”
Abercrombie was ousted by Ige during the Democratic primary of 2014, and argued during this year’s campaign that Ige was taking credit for the achievements of the Abercrombie administration.
But Abercrombie said the post-election reconciliation process for the Democrats is real. “Let’s not fall prey to the cynicism that’s out there and the skepticism, the professional cynics that try to undermine the commitment that everybody in this room has to the Democratic Party and the Democratic values, and to each other.
“I know there’s disappointment, I know there’s disillusionment, sometimes even disgust with mediocrity and mendacity, and hatred and failure is out there, but our great possibility is to have been touched by the values that inform the Democratic Party, and this is the hope that we have,” Abercrombie said.
Hanabusa told the audience that her “political journey” was only possible “because the Democratic Party is the party of the people.”
She said she would be attending Democratic unity events Sunday and today “to be sure that those who are my volunteers, those who have supported me, are out there in the general election to support David Ige for governor.”
When asked about her future plans after the breakfast, Hanabusa replied, “They say never say never, but right now, I’ll tell you, I have no intentions of running again.”
She said it is time to make room for the next generation of Democratic leaders. “I do want to make room for others who should take this on,” Hanabusa said. “We need for them to step up, and we need for them to feel that they’re welcome, and that’s the problem I think we have with most of the millennials, is they don’t feel that they have a place.”
Generally, Hanabusa fared better on the neighbor islands, according to a rough, unscientific survey of the precinct data provided by the Office of Elections. She won more votes in eight of the 16 non-Oahu House districts, including five of seven Big Island districts and two of five Maui districts.
Ige narrowly lost the House district that includes Pahoa and the nearby areas most affected by the ongoing eruption of Kilauea Volcano, despite the state’s response to the eruption being generally seen as a factor that worked in Ige’s favor, and despite Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim endorsing Ige in televised ads, saying the governor “came through” for his island in the crisis.
On Oahu, Hanabusa did better than Ige in three districts in Chinatown-Kalihi, four districts in Waipahu-Ewa Beach and two districts along the Leeward Coast that she calls home.
Ige far outpaced Hanabusa in the Aiea-Pearl City region that is his home base, East Honolulu districts from Hawaii Kai to Manoa, and Kailua-Kaneohe. Hanabusa failed to win any of the districts in those areas.