HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige on Tuesday won re-election to a second term after defeating Republican state Rep. Andria Tupola as the Democratic Party continued to dominate Hawaii politics.
The incumbent entered the midterm election as the strong favorite. In August, he overcame a strong primary election challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa after what he called a “grueling” campaign.
He and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kona doctor Josh Green, earned 61.6 percent of the votes, 147,251 after 248 of 249 precincts reported. Tupoloa and Marissa Kerns had 126,717 votes, good for 33 percent.
Democrats also swept the three contests for Congress, including U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono who defeated Republican Ron Curtis to win a second term.
Brittany Jeffers of Honolulu said Ige deserves more time in office to finish what he needs to get done.
“I think Ige just needs another term. I think he’s a good governor,” said Jeffers, a 29-year-old property manager.
She was also worried Tupola wouldn’t stand up to Republicans on the national level on issues like immigration, ensuring people with pre-existing conditions can obtain health insurance and abortion.
“I got the sense that she was going to roll over for the GOP,” Jeffers said.
Hawaii voters said the state’s high housing costs were a top issue for them, but many also had President Donald Trump on their minds.
Julie Molloy, a 54-year-old paralegal, said she voted in a midterm election for the first time “to stop Trump.” She voted a straight Democratic ticket.
Robert Hackman said he cast his ballot for Tupola and for Republicans in other races. He said it was a “protest vote” given the odds were so heavily in favor of Democrats winning.
“The state has been ruled too long by one party and they have not done a very good job of their stewardship. So at least I wanted to make a symbolic vote in favor of the two-party system,” said the 69-year-old retiree from Honolulu.
Hackman said he liked Tupola’s “common sense” and said Ige seems to be “a creature of the teacher’s union and other public employees’ unions.”
Ige, 61, vowed in his second term to boost affordable housing in a state where half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.
He touted his record of promoting affordable housing, boosting teacher pay and installing air conditioning in over 1,000 public school classrooms.
The governor highlighted his opposition to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, after Hawaii, under his administration’s lead, filed a lawsuit to challenge the policy.
Ige is an electrical engineer who served in the state Legislature from the mid-1980s through 2014, when he ousted incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic Party primary.
Tupola, 37, aimed to become Hawaii’s first Republican governor since Linda Lingle led the state from 2002 to 2010.
She vowed to decrease Hawaii’s homeless rate and boost housing construction by reducing the length of time required to obtain permits. She pledged to cut local taxes and help development projects get capital grants.
Tupola said Hawaii’s high housing costs are the greatest concern for most voters. She said many people are moving to the mainland because they can no longer afford to live in their home state.
The Republican Party is vastly outnumbered in legislative races this year, contesting only five of the 13 state Senate seats and 17 of 51 House seats.
In congressional races, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Ed Case came out of retirement to defeat Cam Cavasso, a Republican former state legislator. The seat is being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who unsuccessfully challenged Ige for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard won re-election to her fourth term in Congress representing rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. She’s beat a challenge by Republican Brian Evans, a singer and songwriter.