Sunday, September 8, 2002

Election 2002


GOP aims to gain
majority in House

Republicans need to win
6 seats to take control
of the 51-member body

» Map of new Senate districts
» Map of new House districts
» Senate and House candidates

By Pat Omandam

All eyes this election season are on the state's gubernatorial and legislative races, where Hawaii Republicans have mounted their most serious threat yet against the dominant Democratic Party.

In the Legislature, the GOP has targeted the House of Representatives, where it hopes to gain control of the 51-member body in November's general elections.

Currently, the GOP minority has 20 House members, but will lose a few incumbents to races in the state Senate, Honolulu City Council and Congress. Overall, Republicans need to gain six more seats to take control as the majority.

But before that can happen, Hawaii voters in two weeks must first decide which Republican or Democratic candidates to support in the single-party primary election on Sept. 21.

Of the 76 legislative seats up for grabs, eight senators and five representatives have uncontested races, meaning they have free rides for re-election.

Republicans are making a strong push to gain more seats in the state Legislature. They could join House Republicans Galen Fox and Barbara Marumoto, both running for re-election. This photo was taken at the state Legislature April 30 as the House reviewed budget proposals.

The rest of the incumbents either have challengers in both the primary and general election or in just the general election.

For example, in the largest House district race, incumbent Rep. Helene Hale of the Big Island faces a primary election against three other Democrats for the Puna district, while three Republican challengers square off for the right to take on that winner.

In two Oahu House districts, incumbents battle incumbents because of changes in the district boundaries that take place every 10 years. For example, the Pearl City race has incumbents Nobu Yonamine and Roy Takumi in a fight to win the Democrat nomination.

In Honolulu, Democratic incumbents Scott Saiki and Terry Nui Yoshinaga tee off for the Moiliili-Kaimuki party nomination.

Election 2002
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Also of note is a Puna-North Kona House race, where challenger Jack Kelly could be the first Green Party candidate elected to the state Legislature if he beats former legislator Democrat Bob Herkes and Republican Vern Vance in the Nov. 5 general election.

Meanwhile, both House majority and minority leaders say everyone should wait until after the general election to discuss the House leadership organization because they don't know which party will be in control.

"I may not be speaker if the GOP has a tidal wave of new candidates that get elected," House speaker Calvin Say (D, Palolo) said last month.

Galen Fox (R, Waikiki), House minority leader, agreed it's premature for legislators to speculate on such things. Both parties can't count on anything in this election, he said.

"We don't know if we're going to be still in the minority or whether we're going to be able to pull this thing off and actually get a majority, which would totally and completely change the dynamics of leadership organization," Fox said.

"I think this is something that we might talk about if we were clearly going to be one or the other."

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