It’s was a surprise. The Star-Advertiser’s Mason-Dixon Poll had Rick Blangiardi and Colleen Hanabusa early on as the top two candidates for Honolulu mayor. Keith Amemiya had spent the most — about $1.5 from contributors and $400,000 of his own money— but was dogged by flyers citing a poor record on Title 9 girls’ sports issues while leading the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. But last night, Amemiya was a strong #2 and Hanabusa a trailing #3.
The Blangiardi-Amemiya November runoff will be especially interesting because the polling shows Blangiardi heavily favored by many Republicans. Amemiya is a member of the Democratic Party. Blangiardi says he’s an an independent. He’s backed by the Ben Cayetano family but has many signs in former Republican congresswoman Pat Saiki’s yard in Waialae-Kahala. Then there’s that haole versus AJA consideration. Where will Hanabusa’s AJA voters go?
Blangiardi is new to politics and government administration. He’s best known to voters because of his editorials on Hawaii News Now when he was its general manager. He was dogged during the Primary by a Civil Beat story of his participation in a smelly real estate deal many years ago, but in the end that seems to have been ignored by voters. Amemiya’s contributor list seems to show Honolulu’s power structure on his side. Like Blangiardi, he loaned his campaign a large chunk of money.
I’m most puzzled by the weak showing of Hanabusa and even weaker by Mufi Hannemann. Was it that both were closely connected with building the not-very-popular train from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center? But both Blangiardi and Amemiya support building the train out to the AMC terminal. Was it Hanabusa’s loss in the governor’s race last time around, or Hannemann’s losses at every level from governor to Congress? Or was it voters tired of same-old?
I ask that last question because I’m stunned that incumbent Harry Kim came in third in the Hawaii Island mayor’s race. We’re talking about Saint Harry Kim!!
The extremely poor showing of Choon James for Honolulu mayor — about 5,000 votes in the Primary — surprised me. I did not expect her to get anywhere close to the top, but thought her activism against the Kahuku windmills and other less-than-popular city projects such as rail to Ala Moana Center would draw a much larger number of supporters. It shows that money counts — for incessant TV advertising and campaign people spread around Oahu. Poor does poorly. The top spenders were the top mayoral vote getters. That never seems to change in our local or national politics.
The General will not be just about money and personality. There remains the big issue of who is most ready to step in and handle our serious budget issues while maintaining critical city services. New blood or old blood? A former TV executive or a former insurance executive? That AJA vote. Who’s the most stimulating debater? Which labor and development groups will give the most money and support to which candidate?
The heavyweight bout begins.