Akaka, Hirono win key primary battles

The usually subdued primary election season was a nail-biter this year, as several contests — most within the Democratic party — came to a head on Saturday. Sen. Daniel Akaka successfully fended off a strong challenge from the younger, more moderate Rep. Ed Case, 54 percent to 45 percent. The 20,000 vote difference is still the closest call the senior senator has faced in his 30 years in Washington. As for the Republicans, voters picked former P.O.W. Jerry Coffee, even though he withdrew from the race for health reasons. Gov. Linda Lingle now has until Tuesday to appoint his replacement on the November ballot.

Of the ten Democrats vying to replace Case in the U.S. House, former gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono won out, but by a slim one percent margin over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. On the Republican side, former television sportscaster Bob Hogue beat former lawmaker Quentin Kawananakoa, despite Kawananakoa’s six-to-one fundraising advantage.

In the race for Hawaii governor, Lingle’s victory on the Republican ticket was never in doubt, nor was that of Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona. Democrats, meanwhile, chose former state senator Randy Iwase over Waianae harbormaster William Aila to challenge Lingle, and former state senator Malama Solomon to take on Aiona.

Many political pundits were watching the State House District 28 race, where incumbent Rep. Beverly Harbin was fighting to keep her seat. She was appointed mid-term by Lingle, a controversial move that Lingle later regretted as her tax and criminal record came under scrutiny. Voters soundly ejected her on Saturday, choosing relative newcomer Karl Rhoads for the Democratic ballot. Rhoads will face Republican Collin Wong, who notably also received more votes than Harbin in the primary.

Full results from the primary election can be found at the state Office of Elections website.

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