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Andria Tupola denies blocking running mate Marissa Kerns from debate

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / FILE

    Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Marissa Kerns (left), today, said her running mate Andria Tupola (right) deliberately failed to inform Kerns that Kerns had been invited to Monday night’s televised debate.

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / NOV. 2017

    Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Marissa Kerns (foreground), today, said her running mate Andria Tupola deliberately failed to inform Kerns that Kerns had been invited to Monday night’s televised debate.

Republican candidate for governor Andria Tupola deliberately failed to inform her running mate Marissa Kerns that Kerns had been invited to Monday night’s televised debate, and Kerns therefore didn’t attend, Kerns said today.

Tupola denied that allegation, saying that she told Kerns at a campaign rally on Sunday that Kerns was invited to the debate.

Kerns, who won the Republican primary for lieutenant governor, said Tupola knew by Oct. 19 that Kerns was invited to the event, and even informed television station KITV that Kerns would attend, but never told Kerns herself about the invitation.

“I’ve been pounding Tupola since last night, right after the debate. Oh, my gosh,” Kerns said this morning. “Not one thing she told me any of that stuff. We even met up the other night at the rally in Kailua.”

“Not once did she mention it,” Kerns said.

Tupola said this morning that KITV told her before the debate that the station had “informed all of the campaigns.” Tupola denied that she accepted the invitation on Kerns’ behalf or ever indicated to the television station that Kerns would attend.

When Tupola and Kerns met at the campaign event in Kailua, “I told her that there was a debate and she kept insisting that she wasn’t invited, and I was like, ‘Nope, I’m pretty sure that KITV invited all of us.’ And she was like, ‘Nope, nope, it’s just for the governors.’ And I was like, ‘Nope, I think you got it wrong.’”

“I tried to talk to her about it. She’s definitely a very headstrong, determined person,” Tupola said.

There has been obvious friction between the two GOP candidates, and earlier in the campaign, Kerns said publicly that Tupola should apologize for her voting record, which Kerns said is too liberal. However, more recently the candidates said they have been working together.

Midway through the debate Monday night, moderator Paula Akana announced that Kerns had been invited to the debate and confirmed that she would attend, but never showed. State Sen. Josh Green, who is the Democratic running mate for Gov. David Ige, did attend.

Kerns said she spoke to Tupola Monday night and demanded: “How are you going to fix this?”

“I told her, ‘You need to call all the media and let them know.’ Let them know,” Kerns said. “She paused and she couldn’t say a word … I just called her. It’s just so sad, it’s just sad, it’s really, really sad.”

“She couldn’t say a word, that’s the problem. She knew she did this deliberately,” Kerns said.

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