HILO — Two West Hawaii candidates are playing musical chairs in their House and Senate races.
With four months until the Aug. 11 primary, Brenda Ford and Richard Creagan are changing their plans.
Now Ford rather than Creagan will run for the District 3 Senate seat being vacated by Josh Green as he runs for lieutenant governor. Ford had previously announced her candidacy for Creagan’s District 5 House seat after Creagan announced plans to run for Senate.
Creagan said in a statement Friday he’s decided to stay put, running for re-election to the House instead. He made his plans to run for Senate in the wake of a tumultuous summer special session where his chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee was in jeopardy, he said.
“The turmoil in the House has abated, and I anticipate if re-elected to be able to continue to fight for small farmers as chair of Agriculture. As a physician, I will also continue my fight for a new teaching hospital and medical center in West Hawaii,” Creagan said in a statement. “It would be irresponsible, given the new realities, for me to leave my strong position in the House at this time.”
Ford said she’s been in close communication with Creagan, and she feels the region would be best served with both of them in the Legislature.
“I have deep respect for Rep. Creagan, who previously endorsed me for representative; however, it does not serve the public well to have two candidates with similar viewpoints running against each other,” Ford said in a statement. “That is the reason I’ve decided to enter the Senate race.”
The Senate district includes most of Kailua-Kona through Naalehu.
The new arrangement pits Ford against Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha, with whom she served on the County Council from 2012 to 2014. In all, Ford served eight years on the council before being term-limited.
Kanuha said he’s pursuing his Senate candidacy.
“The outpouring of support from the residents of Kona and Kau, lawmakers and legislators, labor unions, and other leaders affirm my commitment to the community where I was born and raised, the community I hope to serve as state senator,” Kanuha said.
Candidate filing continues through June 5.
In addition to Ford and Kanuha running as Democrats, the only other candidate who’s pulled nomination papers for the Senate seat is Michael Last, running as a libertarian, according to the weekly report posted Friday by the state Office of Elections.
Democrats Gene Leslie and Jeanne Kapela have pulled nomination papers for the House race. The sprawling House district covers Naalehu to portions of Holualoa.
“While I respect Richard Creagan, our community needs a leader who is committed to serving its people, not someone who isn’t sure whether or not he wants to be a representative,” Kapela said in a statement. “There is no question about my commitment to the community in which I was born and raised. I am wholeheartedly devoted to serving the residents of West Hawaii and will always put people before politics.”
Creagan said he and Ford would make a formidable team.
“Brenda Ford and I hope to gain your support to work as a team to improve our agriculture, our health care, our educational systems, and economic opportunities for House District 5 and Senate District 3,” he said.