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It's not just an election year for the two leading candidates vying to become Honolulu's next mayor.
Politically, a win outright in Saturday's special primary election would be the culmination of either Duke Bainum's or Mufi Hannemann's careers so far.
This year has also marked personal milestones -- Hannemann turned 50 this summer, and Bainum got married on Valentine's Day.
Either candidate can win it all on Saturday if they garner 50 percent plus one vote.
But eight others are also in the race, including former Honolulu mayor Frank Fasi. Judging from polls, it appears likely Fasi will play a spoiler role in the campaign, forcing the top two candidates into a runoff election.
If no one wins outright, the race for the top two vote-getters moves on to the Nov. 2 general election, where the candidate with the majority of votes wins.
While Hannemann and Bainum make every effort to distinguish themselves, they share commonalties that flow into some of the issues that have permeated the campaign:
>> They credit their hardworking parents for giving them their work ethic, drive and their belief in giving back.
>> They say their wives provide advice and someone to lean on when the campaign gets hectic.
>> The word "passion" crops up in both camps to describe their candidate's love of government service.
Four years has made a big difference in Hannemann's life.
In 2000, the former City Council chairman resigned his seat and ran for mayor against a popular incumbent. Hannemann lost against Mayor Jeremy Harris in the primary.
The following year would bring a double-whammy.
His father, Gustav, whom Hannemann called the hardest working individual he has ever known, died at the age of 89 in January 2001.
(His mother, Faiaso, died when Hannemann was 18 and a freshman at Harvard.)
Then, in June 2001, Hannemann underwent heart bypass surgery. With these events and his recent 50th birthday, Hannemann said everything is coming together.
"It made me focus much more on the need to realize that, more than ever, I've got to put myself in a position to help," he said. "I feel much better prepared, more determined to contribute. ... I can make things happen."
Longtime friend and Iolani classmate Colin Ching said that those crises changed the way Hannemann looks at life.
"I think it's made him more sensitive, it's made him more cognizant of people's feelings," Ching said.
When a woman told Hannemann to "cut the local boy crap," at a campaign event, Ching said the old Mufi Hannemann would've tried to argue his position to her. Instead, he just walked away, Ching said.
But Trudi Saito, another Hannemann friend and one of three top Hannemann campaign advisers, said that those life-changing experiences haven't changed Hannemann's political focus, only enhanced it.
"I think he's a little more mature, we all learn from it. ... he's got a lot more experience, learning to handle things differently," she said.
Dr. Ignacio A. Torres recalls when he first met Bainum as an intern at the Queen's Medical Center in the early 1980s.
"My initial impression of him was, 'Here's this rich young man, and he wanted to be richer,'" Torres said.
But Torres soon found that he was wrong.
"He wasn't behaving like a spoiled rich kid. He was really compassionate, respectful to his superiors, to the patients and the workers in the hospital," Torres said.
Bainum's family wealth epitomized the American Dream. His parents, Irvin and Evea Bainum, built a business from a 14-room motel in Maryland that has since expanded into banking and long-term-care homes.
Bainum sees attacks on his family's wealth as a slap against his parents, his advisers say.
"His parents came from nothing and they worked hard their entire lives to build that and they should be proud. He doesn't have to make apologies," said attorney Andy Winer, a Bainum friend for 16 years and a campaign adviser.
Bainum expects critics to go after him, "but to come after his family is cheap," Winer said. "Integrity, hard work and giving back, he clearly got that from his parents, people who worked hard and did well and didn't forget where they came from."
Earlier this year, Winer was best man at Bainum's Valentine's Day wedding to Jennifer Toma.
"She is clearly one of the anchors in his life," he said.
"I think in Hawaii a lot of people expect that the wife will be supportive and be by the side of the candidate, and Jennifer has been that and much more. She has been a wonderful source of encouragement for me," Bainum said.
Hannemann's wife, Gail Mukaihata Hannemann, hasn't been on the campaign trail as much. Hannemann said he and his wife made a conscious decision to keep Gail, the chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, separate from the campaign so as to not to jeopardize her organization's nonprofit status.
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>> Born Muliufi Francis Hannemann, July 16, 1954, Honolulu. Shortened to "Mufi" during his high school athletic career. Raised in Kalihi.
>> Married since 1992 to Gail Akiko Mukaihata Hannemann. First marriage for both. No children.
>> Sixth of seven children of Gustav and Faiaso Hannemann (both deceased)
>> Iolani High School, graduated 1972. Student body president in his senior year and standout in basketball and football.
>> Harvard University, graduated cum laude in 1976.
>> Fulbright Scholar, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, 1977.
>> Administrative assistant to former Gov. George Ariyoshi.
>> Legislative aide to state Sen. Bert Kobayashi, 1988-90.
>> White House Fellow on the staff of Vice President George Bush.
>> C. Brewer and Co. Vice President for Corporate Marketing and Public Affairs.
>> Director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
>> Self-employed business consultant.
>> Ran two unsuccessful campaigns for Congress, 1986 and 1990.
>> Elected to the City Council, 1994-2000. Council chairman, 1998-99.
>> Resigned Council seat for a failed mayoral run against Mayor Jeremy Harris, 2000.
>> Born: Mark Edmund Bainum on July 21, 1952, in Maryland. Nickname "Duke" became part of his legal name in 1987. Grew up in Arkansas.
>> Younger of two sons of Irvin and Evea Bainum. Irvin Bainum died in 1999.
>> Married Hilo native Jennifer Ann Harumi Toma Bainum on Feb. 14. Each were married twice previously. No children together.
>> Seventh-day Adventist schools in Arkansas and Tennessee, where he was student council president and athlete in several sports in high school.
>> Southern Missionary College, Collegedale, Tenn., graduated 1974.
>> University of Maryland School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine, 1980.
>> University of Hawaii surgical residency program, 1980-82.
>> Western Regional Banking School, 2000.
>> University of Hawaii Public Administration program, 1989-90.
>> Licensed, practicing physician in Hawaii since 1980.
>> Part-time physician, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
>> Legislative aide to state Sen. Bert Kobayashi, 1988-90.
>> Served as chairman of the Diamond State Bank in Arkansas.
>> McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board, 1989-90.
>> State House of Representatives, 1990-94.
>> Honolulu City Council, 1995-2003.
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Where do they stand?
Duke Bainum and Mufi Hannemann have similar positions on some issues. For example, both currently support developing light rail to attack traffic gridlock on Oahu, although they haven't clearly stated how they plan to do that. But they also have distinct differences in other issues. Here are some of them.
>> Keep mandatory leasehold conversion?
Hannemann: No. As mayor, he would sign any repeal bill.
Bainum: Yes. As mayor, he would veto any repeal bill.
>> State plan for Nimitz Highway "flyover" elevated two-lane freeway as precursor to light rail?
Hannemann: Yes. But not aesthetically pleasing.
Bainum: No. Calls it visual blight.
>> Community benefits package for area the City Council will select as site for new landfill?
Hannemann: Yes. Doesn't support landfills anywhere on the island, but monetary benefit to community could help lessen the impact.
Bainum: No. Doesn't support building a new landfill along the Waianae Coast and in Kailua and doesn't think the current landfill should remain at Waimanalo Gulch indefinitely. Thinks a community benefits package is insulting to residents stuck with the island's garbage.
>> Support state-run ferry system to help with traffic congestion?
Hannemann: Yes. Link up ferry with city buses.
Bainum: No. Hasn't succeeded before and won't do enough to reduce congestion.