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Primary concludes with losses for two incumbents

August 19, 2014 - 10:55am

Hawaii Island voters may like their Hawaii County Council member, but they are not always fond of their state representative.

Or their governor, for that matter.

While this month’s primary election saw three council incumbents sail smoothly into another two-year term, and another two go unchallenged, the political winds were not as favorable for two lawmakers — state Sen. Malama Solomon and state Rep. Faye Hanohano — who both fell to challengers.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie also didn’t fare well here, losing 40 percent to 58 percent to Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary, though the same goes for much of the rest of the state.

For Hanohano, who has represented House District 4 since 2007, a six-day voting delay for parts of her district only put her further behind.

The Puna representative was trailing attorney Joy San Buenaventura by 298 votes following voting Aug. 9 in her district’s five-person Democratic primary. With the completion of a postponed primary for two of her district’s precincts Friday, that gap grew to 862 votes.

Hanohano, who didn’t return a phone call Monday, took second place with 766 votes, or 20 percent, while San Buenaventura received 1,628 votes, or 43 percent, in the storm-damaged district.

Without the storm, San Buenaventura, who won each precinct, said she would expect the results to be the same, and noted an overall desire in the district for a new representative following controversial comments regarding race that marred Hanohano’s current term as well as other issues.

“It wasn’t only what she said, it was also her votes against a minimum wage bill, against a sustainability bill, and the lack of basic progress,” she said.

San Buenaventura will face Republican Gary Thomas in the Nov. 4 general election.

At the north end of the island, former lawmaker Lorraine Inouye bested Solomon in the Senate District 4 race with 58 percent of the vote in the two-person Democratic primary.

For Solomon, the loss was a flashback to 1998 when Inouye unseated her from the Senate during their first of three match ups.

Solomon deflected Inouye’s second challenge in 2012 after she returned to the Senate through an appointment. That time, she held on with a 69-vote lead.

This time, the difference was 1,212 votes against her.

Inouye, who is also a former Hawaii County mayor and council member, said she was ready for another photo finish.

“I expected it to be close,” she said. “Probably a little more than what I gained the last election.”

Solomon, who was reached by phone Monday, declined to comment on the results.

Inouye will face Libertarian Alain Schiller in November.

Of the contested council races, former council member Aaron Chung had the largest margin of victory.

Chung, an attorney, won 70.5 percent of the vote in a five-person race to replace Chairman J Yoshimoto, who is term limited.

In the council races, anyone who wins a majority of votes in the primary is elected without having to go through the general election.

Chung said Monday he thought he had a good chance on making it to the next round but wasn’t expecting to win outright Aug. 9.

“We kind of held back a lot in terms of output,” he said, referring to the campaign. “We had to save our energy for the general election.”

Chung will take the District 2 seat after being sworn in at the end of the year.

Email Tom Callis at