Republicans hold steady with 5 seats in state House

  • People come in to vote at the McKinley High polling place in Honolulu on Tuesday. (Craig T. Kojima/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

HONOLULU — Party control of the state Legislature was never in question in this year’s midterm election as Republicans weren’t contesting enough seats and a majority of Democrats were re-elected in the primary.

The unknown was how many seats the Republican Party would manage to win to fulfill their role as the opposition.

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Republicans did manage to hold their ground in the state House, keeping steady with five of 51 seats. And they may have managed to take one Senate seat, returning to a chamber that has only had Democrats since Republican veteran legislator Sam Slom lost his senate seat in 2016.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen, who was re-elected to represent Kailua, said she was encouraged by the outcome. She said it was difficult because Republicans had to fight the impression many voters had that the election was over after the August primary, when the Democratic Party held heated contests for their governor and U.S. House candidates.

She said the Republican Party’s goal was to encourage voters to cast ballots in the general election so Hawaii will have a vocal minority opposition in the Legislature.

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“Otherwise everything is decided behind closed doors in Democratic caucuses. We know that. As Republicans, our responsibility has been to open up the government process so the public is aware of what is actually going on at the Capitol,” Thielen said.

Republican Kurt Fevella was leading Democrat Matt LoPresti Wednesday for an open Senate seat representing Ewa Beach in west Oahu by a razor-thin, too-close-to-call margin of 117 votes. Fevella had 6,204 votes to LoPresti’s 6,087.