The Hawaii for Biden campaign today announced endorsements from dozens of elected Democrats and other community leaders from across the state including House Speaker Scott Saiki, Senate President Ron Kouchi and two former lieutenant governors, Doug Chin and Shan Tsutsui.
Also backing Biden is former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Kauai County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar, according to the Biden campaign announcement. The endorsements also include Lorraine Akiba, former state director of Labor and Industrial Relations and a former member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
Former Hawaii Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie, have already announced they are supporting Biden, who has surged in recent primary voting across the nation.
Hawaii Democrats had originally planned to wrap up mail-in balloting for their party-run presidential primary on April 4, but have now extended the voting deadline. Participants have until April 4 to enroll as party members, and will then receive mail-in ballots. The ballots must be received back by May 22 in order for them to be tallied on May 23.
Biden’s opponent Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders swept the Hawaii Democrats’ presidential preference poll voting in 2016, but it is unclear whether Sanders will be as successful in Hawaii this year.
This is the first time Hawaii Democrats are using mail-in voting and ranked-choice ballots, and it isn’t exactly clear yet how that will affect turnout or the vote tallies. Nearly 34,000 state Democrats voted in walk-in voting in 2016.
The Hawaii Democrats’ voting is also complicated somewhat because Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will be on the ballot. Gabbard, a well-known figure in Hawaii politics, withdrew from the presidential race on March 19 and also endorsed Biden.
The Hawaii voting is open only to party members, and will help decide how Hawaii delegates will be apportioned among the national candidates for president at the national convention scheduled for July 13–16 in Milwaukee.
The latest Biden endorsements include state House Majority Leader Rep. Della Au Belatti; Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz; House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke; and state Sens. Lorraine Inouye, Michelle Kidani and Laura Thielen.
Also endorsing Biden are state Reps. Stacelynn Eli, Sharon Har, Troy Hashimoto, Aaron Johanson, Sam Kong, Scot Matayoshi, John Mizuno, Dee Morikawa, Nadine Nakamura, Takashi Ohno, Gregg Takayama and Jimmy Tokioka.
The list also includes former state Sens. Bobby Bunda, Brickwood Galuteria, and Pohai Ryan; and former state Reps. Marilyn Lee, David Morihara and Hermina Morita.
Also endorsing Biden are Honolulu City Councilmembers Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan and Ann Kobayashi; Maui County Councilmembers Riki Hokama and Tasha Kama; Hawaii County Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter; and Kauai County Council members Luke Evslin and Ross Kagawa.