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Karl Rhoads, the Democratic candidate for the seat for state House District 28, sat with Ken Tomita and Donna Rhine at Hank's Cafe on Nuuanu Avenue in Chinatown last night, waiting for the election returns. CLICK FOR LARGE
Dems' control of Legislature tightens
Democrats strengthened their hold on the state Legislature by doing a better job than Republicans at grabbing open seats, particularly in the state House, where the GOP lost two seats.
Democrats now control 43 seats in the House while the number of Republicans went down to eight from a high of 19 following the 2000 election.
"We will just have to speak out a little louder and clearer," said veteran state Republican Rep. Barbara Marumoto, who added the party won't give up. "I've been here before and we can do it again."
Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Mike McCartney said the Democratic victories in the Legislature resulted from the hard work of individual candidates.
"The strategy was always that every candidate was responsible for their own campaigns first -- they have to work hard, they have to hold signs, they have to walk," McCartney said. "We didn't try to run people's campaigns."
In the state Senate, two seats were without incumbents and the results were split, leaving the same number of Democrats and Republicans, 20 to 5 respectively.
On Windward Oahu, Democrats picked up the 24th Senate District seat that was vacated by Republican Sen. Bob Hogue, who decided against seeking re-election to run for Congress.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Collin Wong, Republican candidate for the 28th House District seat, and Sumi Lee, left, Liz Ji and Karen Masagatani reacted to the first printout showing Wong trailing last night at Empress Restaurant in the Chinese Cultural Center. CLICK FOR LARGE
Jill Tokuda, former Democratic Party official and former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono aide, outdistanced Republican Keoki Leong, a former aide to Hogue, in that race.
In Leeward Oahu, former City Councilman Mike Gabbard, a Republican, eked out a victory against Democrat George Yamamoto, a member of the neighborhood board, in the race to replace Democratic Sen. Brian Kanno.
Several House seats were also up for grabs, but Democrats were victorious in many of those races:
» Former Hawaii Democratic Party spokesman Tom Brower beat Rep. Anne Stevens in the 23rd House District (Waikiki) seat. Stevens was appointed to the seat after former State Rep. Galen Fox resigned because of a conviction for a misdemeanor charge of abusive sexual contact for molesting a sleeping female airline passenger.
» Della Au Belatti, the former Campaign Spending commissioner, defeated Republican Tracy Okubo in the 25th House District (Tantalus-Makiki) seat that was vacated by Rep. Brian Schatz, who did not seek another term so he could run for Congress.
» Neighborhood board member Karl Rhoads triumphed over Republican Collin Wong in the 28th House District (Kakaako-Downtown) race. Rhoads defeated controversial incumbent state Rep. Bev Harbin in the primary election.
» John Mizuno, an aide to Rep. Dennis Arakaki, will take over his boss' seat in the 30th House District (Alewa Heights-Kalihi) against Republican Rick Manayan, Green Party member Frank DeGiacomo and nonpartisan Dana Patria.
» On the Big Island, Faye Hanohano was victorious over Republican Brian Jordan and Libertarian Aaron Anderson for the 4th House District (Pahoa-Kalapana) seat that state Rep. Helene Hale held before deciding against running again.
Also, veteran West Oahu Republican Rep. Mark Moses lost to Democrat Sharon Har, a former aide to Hirono.
Republicans did make some headway.
Leeward Coast Democratic Rep. Michael Kahikina lost to Republican Karen Awana, while veteran Republican politician Gene Ward is headed back to the Legislature in the 17th District seat held by fellow Republican Rep. Bud Stonebraker, who also did not seek re-election.