Diary

Hawaii State Legislature

Tulsi Gabbard’s victory wasn’t the only upset in the Primary. State Rep. Jessica Wooley emerged victorious over Rep. Pono Chang, a longtime ally of House Speaker Calvin Say and consistent opponent of GMO labeling laws, the food sustainability bill and other green initiatives. The two squared off when reapportionment redrew district boundaries.

And Laura Thielen, who was director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under Gov. Linda Lingle, managed to unseat incumbent state Sen. Pohai Ryan, a Democratic stalwart. Thielen generated controversy when the Democratic Party of Hawaii attempted to prevent her from running, saying she hadn’t been a Democrat in good standing for at least six months prior to announcing her candidacy. Thielen has promised to oppose bills that fast-track development, such as SB755 and SB2927, both of which failed, but are expected to resurface in 2013.

In other key legislative races, Sen. Brian Taniguchi triumphed in the District 11 race over Sen. Carol Fukunaga, who co-sponsored SB755.

But Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who supported SB755, handily won the District 17 seat, despite a challenge from Alex Sonson. Sen. Michelle Kidani, another advocate of SB755, successfully fought off her District 18 opponent, former House member Michael Magaoay. Kidani will face Republican Rojo Herrera in November. State Sen. Will Espero, meanwhile, easily won election in District 19. He voted for both fast-tracking bills in the last legislative session.

In State House races, Bertrand Kobayashi beat Brian Yamane in the 19th District, but will face Republican challenger Darrell Young. House Speaker Say, who represents the 20th District, easily won his race, but still faces Green candidate Keiko Bonk in the general.

Incumbent Scott Nishimoto, who voted against both fast-tracking bills, won in District 21, as did Della Au Belatti in District 24, Scott Saiki in District 26 and Republican Corrinne Wei Ching in District 27.

Veteran politician Romy Cachola took the District 30 race, and Mark Takai triumphed over Heather Giugni in the District 33 Democratic primary. He will be running against Republican Sam Kong.

In District 44, Democratic incumbent Jo Jordan will proceed to the general, as will Karen Awana in District 43. Both supported the fast-tracking bills.

In Neighbor Island races of note, former State Sen. Gary Hooser, who was named director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control by Gov. Abercrombie following a failed bid for Lieutenant Governor, took seventh in a field of nine candidates for Kauai County Council.