On Aug. 11, Hawai‘i voters will decide who will advance to the general election in both the Democratic and Republican primaries for governor. On the Republican side, polls show state Rep. Andria Tupola leading former state senator John Carroll and former Marine and Hawai‘i Department of Education administrator Ray L’Heureux.

But the race being watched most closely is the hotly contested Democratic primary race for governor between the incumbent, David Ige, and U.S. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, who decided earlier this year to leave the Congress to challenge Ige. Hanabusa’s entry into the race suddenly spiced up the contest.

The following stories focus on the views of Colleen Hanabusa and David Ige.


Richard Borreca
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Ask Colleen Hanabusa what she likes and she might say making ikebana flower arrangements, or eating at old-school local diners, or even attending the summer bon dances. But review her 20-year political career and what becomes abundantly clear is that what Colleen Hana-
busa really enjoys is a good fight.

In an early Honolulu Star-Bulletin profile on her, one legislative colleague borrowed the local slang for a tough woman, calling Hanabusa “a tita with brains.”

“I’ll take it as a compliment,” Hanabusa responded. “As long as they take me seriously and they take what I’m doing seriously.

“And, as long as they realize that it is not going to be an easy battle if we are going to fight,” she added.

As a youngster, Hanabusa recalls growing up in Waianae and battling it out with the neighborhood boys.

“We would play samurai and run around with little sticks,” she recalled in a 1999 profile.

Her election battles have had the same combat intensity.

Colleen Hanabusa launched her political career running against — and beating — longtime Democratic incumbent and then Senate President
James Aki.

She then immediately tangled with former Hawai‘i attorney general Margery Bronster. Hanabusa questioned the large number of over-votes in her district’s election, to which Bronster responded that the area’s “education level” might have been a problem.


Karleen Chinen


he “Year of the Dog” began happily for Gov. David Ige. With three years under his belt as Hawai‘i’s chief executive, he was looking forward to launching his campaign for a second term. But his glee quickly turned into a nightmare on the morning of Jan. 13, when many cell phones, but not all, blared a warning message about an incoming nuclear missile, saying the alert was not a drill. Panic ensued throughout the state. The alert turned out to be a false alarm, mistakenly triggered by an employee of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, or HI-EMA.

On television newscasts that evening, Gov. David Ige stood before cameras to explain what had happened and why it had taken 38 minutes to cancel the alert. But eight months later, the incident continues to dog the governor as he battles for re-election.

“I’ve not run from it,” Ige told the Herald in wide-ranging interview in early July. “So, let’s go to that 38 minutes,” he said. “The alert went off and me, like everyone else, was startled by the alert. Security rapped on the door: ‘Protocol is we take you to the shelter.’” Ige said he knew “there was no capability for a missile launch, so I said I’m going to confirm. I tried to contact Emergency Management. The lines were all busy. Continued to make calls. The adjutant general (Joe Logan) finally called me to confirm that it was a false alert.

“There is a very strict chain of command when it comes to emergency management; we don’t want the public to get mixed messages and so there is a very strict protocol about keeping the public informed. And the protocol was followed,” Ige insisted.

He said the alert identified several flaws in the system that told HI-EMA their its plans were not as complete as they should have been. “Clearly, we’ve initiated action to make sure that we do that.” The changes also included replacing HI-EMA’s leadership.

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