A 15 percent lead is a reason to smile.
Image: deron kamisato

By capturing 44 percent of the vote, former Gov. Ben Cayetano has made it clear the Honolulu mayor’s race is a referendum on high-speed Rail.

Cayetano, who vowed to halt the $5.2 billion project if elected, will face Kirk Caldwell, former city managing director, in the general election November 6th. Caldwell edged ahead of incumbent Peter Carlisle, who saw his dreams of a second term dashed as the two men split the pro-Rail vote, receiving 29 and 24.8 percent, respectively.

Though Cayetano entered the race late, he became the immediate front-runner as his anti-Rail platform found sympathetic voters. Going forward, Cayetano will face tough resistance from construction unions and business groups that endorse the transit project as a job-producer. Carlisle has said he will back Caldwell; whether his supporters will follow suit is unclear.