Seven incumbent state senators were cruising to victory Tuesday night, including Bennette Misalucha, who was appointed to fill the seat of the late state Sen. Breene Harimoto.
Former state Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, who chaired the House Human Services and Homeless Committee, also had an easy victory to represent Hawaii island’s Puna District seat formerly held by Russell Ruderman.
All of the candidates were looking to be elected to four-year terms and will be part of the 25-member Senate.
None faced serious competition in Tuesday night’s first election returns following a campaign season that was hampered by reduced opportunities to meet constituents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even well-known former state Sen. Sam Slom, a Republican, was unable to mount any serious challenge to incumbent Stanley Chang, a Democrat, to regain Slom’s former East Honolulu District 9 seat in the first vote returns.
Chang beat Slom four years ago.
All of the incumbents and Buenaventura are well known in their districts and are all Democrats except for Republican Kurt Fevella, an outspoken advocate for his constituents and causes representing District 19 on the Ewa side of Oahu.
The others are:
>> Donovan Dela Cruz, who chairs the Senate’s powerful Ways and Means Committee along with a special Senate committee overseeing the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dela Cruz represents Wahiawa-Whitmore-Mililani Mauka.
>> Gil Keith-Agaran, who represents Waihee-Wailuku-Kahului on Maui.
>> Mike Gabbard, the father of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who represents Kapolei-Makakilo.
>> Former state Rep. Chris Lee, who replaces former state Sen. Laura Thielen and is part of the next generation of state and City Council leaders representing the Windward side of Oahu.
>> And Misalucha, who was appointed by Gov. David Ige in July to fill the remainder of the term of Harimoto, who died June 18.
Misalucha represents Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea and has worked in banking, marketing, public policy and community outreach and was a broadcast journalist at KHON Channel 2 News and in the Philippines.