Baptiste win hangs on election law ruling
LIHUE » Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste might have won his re-election outright in Saturday's primary by one vote.
But depending on who is counting, he could face a runoff, thanks to one vote or several hundred.
Last night, no one in Kauai, including the candidates, was certain of what the results meant.
Baptiste, the incumbent seeking a second term, needed 50 percent of the vote, plus one, to avoid a runoff with second-place challenger Jesse Fukushima, who finished with 27 percent of the vote.
As of yesterday's final but uncertified results, the mayor had 8,173 votes to former Councilman Fukushima's 4,725. John Hoff finished third with 1,984 votes, followed by Bruce Pleas with 1,083 and Janee Taylor with 377.
The total number of votes cast for those candidates was 16,342, meaning the mayor had 50 percent of the votes for candidates, plus two votes.
According to the Kauai County Charter, in the primary, "any candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast for that office shall be elected."
But wait, say Fukushima supporters.
They say that 1,130 blank votes should count toward the total, giving the mayor 47 percent of the vote and a couple of hundred votes shy of a majority.
The mayor could even come up a vote short, if the votes of the four people who overvoted, or selected two other people for the job, were counted. They did technically cast a vote in the race.
An audit of all the votes was expected by election officials.
But members of the county elections division took yesterday off, so official results are not likely before today at the earliest.
Neither side had heard from election officials as of last night, they said.
"We're all on pins and needles," said Baptiste spokeswoman Mary Daubert. "Until we get the official word, we won't be jumping up and down and celebrating."
Fukushima said he expects a runoff and was out campaigning yesterday.
"As far as we see it, he's got 46 percent and we've got 27. To me it's definitely a runoff," Fukushima said.
"I'm just going by the printout. He falls short of the required percentage," he said. "I'm not conceding anything."
One thing is for sure, Fukushima said: The mayor's race just got a whole lot more exciting.