Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa today endorsed former television executive Rick Blangiardi for Honolulu mayor.
Blangiardi is hoping Hanabusa’s support will be a boon to his campaign as he goes up against former insurance executive Keith Amemiya in the Nov. 3 general election.
In the Aug. 8 primary, Hanabusa was eliminated when she finished third behind Blangiardi and Amemiya in a race where the top two finishers advanced.
The endorsement was made at a Zoom press conference which Blangiardi and Hanabusa attended, following COVID-19 induced safety guidelines by wearing face shields and attempting to stay physically away from each other.
“I’m looking for someone who can build public confidence, someone that I know who will make those hard decisions, someone who will get the facts and the information that he needs, and when he makes that decision, he will stand by it and he will own it, ” Hanabusa said.
Blangiardi and Amemiya are both first-time candidates. Hanabusa pointed out that much of her campaign’s focus was on bringing her decades of political experience into the seat at a time of a pandemic that’s crushing the state’s economy, and she acknowledged that’s not what voters are seeking.
“Democracy is what it is and the people have decided,” Hanabusa said.
According to the official count, Blangiardi finished captured 69,510 votes, Amemiya with 55,002 votes and Hanabusa with 50,120. City Councilwoman Kym Pine finished fourth with 40,008 votes and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann with 26,975 votes.
Hanabusa, a longtime Democrat, said she has no problems supporting Blangiardi, who has stressed he has no political party allegiance, over her fellow Democrat Amemiya. “Rick Blangiardi, I joked with him earlier, is a man without a country,” she said, noting that city races are nonpartisan. As a result, she said, she does not believe she violated party protocol with her endorsement.
Last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz endorsed Amemiya for mayor. Amemiya has helped Schatz’s previous political campaigns. Schatz and Hanabusa, on the other hand, were part of a bitter dispute and campaign following the death of longtime Democratic stalwart Sen. Daniel K. Inouye in 2012.
As Blangiardi and Hanabusa held their press conference, the Amemiya campaign issued a press release announcing that several unions are now supporting their candidate.
Among those organizations: the Ironworkers Local 625, the Hawaii Iron Workers’ Stabilization Fund and the Hawaii Teamsters Local 996. All three organizations endorsed Hannemann in the primary.
The latter represents employees of the city’s TheBus and TheHandi-Van. Amemiya’s previous endorsements included the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers AFSCME Local 646, the two unions that represent the largest share of the city’s workers.
Blangiardi’s one significant union endorsement came from the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
In a later press release, Amemiya said: ““We have been flooded with support from organizations and individuals who supported Colleen Hanabusa in the Primary Election. We are confident that our vision of a more fair, more just, and better run Honolulu will resonate with voters.”