KAILUA-KONA — Dru Kanuha defeated Brenda Ford in a hotly contested case Saturday for the Democratic nomination for the state’s 3rd Senate District.
Kanuha, who represented North and South Kona on the Hawaii County Council for three terms, garnered 4,319 votes, or 51.1 percent of votes total cast by Democrats in the district during the primary election. Ford had tallied 3,596 votes, or 43.4 percent of votes cast.
“I’m really proud of our campaign and the positiveness that we’ve experienced throughout the entire district of Kona and Ka‘u. I’m extremely proud of the hard work every individual did making this campaign happen,” Kanuha said from his campaign party Saturday night at The Feeding Leaf and Okazuya in Kailua-Kona. “I’m glad that the community resonated with my vision of how I’m going to be advocating for Kona and Ka’u.”
Ford, who held the District 6 seat representing portions of Kona and Ka‘u on the council for four terms from 2006 to 2014 before being term-limited, declined comment Saturday night after the third printout, noting that there were votes still to be counted.
The race remained close throughout the night with Kanuha leading Ford 2,539 votes to 2,079 after the first printout, which included early walk-in votes and some mail-in results. Kanuha maintained a 400- to 500-vote lead throughout the second and third printouts.
Though a close race for the Democratic nod, through Aug. 10, Kanuha’s contributions totaled $46,753 while Ford’s totaled $31,951, according to contribution and expenditure reports submitted to the state Campaign Spending Commission.
Kanuha will face Libertarian Michael Last in the upcoming general election on Nov. 6. Last ran unopposed on the Libertarian ticket in Saturday’s primary election, garnering 15 votes. Last reported raising no money this campaign.
“I really look forward to representing Kona and Ka‘u at the state level to advocating on their behalf,” said Kanuha.
Senate District 3 includes portions of North and South Kona and Ka‘u. It runs south from Kalaoa in North Kona around South Point to Honuapu in Ka‘u, comprising areas such as Kailua-Kona, Keauhou, Kealakekua and Naalehu.
The seat was vacated by Sen. Josh Green, who appeared on track to win the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor in Saturday’s primary election. Green had held the seat since 2009.