GOP fights for Senate seat


POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Although the balance of power in the Legislature is unlikely to shift come next year, a handful of contests in both the Senate and House offer some intrigue on Nov. 4.

Of the 12 open seats in the Senate, seven are up for grabs.

Republicans, whose numbers are down to four in the senior chamber, already have lost one of their two open seats. Big Island Sen. Paul Whalen opted against seeking a return to his Milolii-Waimea seat. Rep. Josh Green won the seat in the Sept. 20 primary.

The other Republican seat in play is the Downtown-Waikiki seat held by Sen. Gordon Trimble, who faces a challenge from television personality and former state Democratic Party Chairman Brickwood Galuteria.

Galuteria launched his campaign in February and has raised more than $107,000 for the race, compared with about $83,000 for Trimble.

“;I feel like I'm walking around with a target on my back,”; said Trimble, who plans to focus his campaign on developing renewable energy, ethics reform and high-tech education.

“;What I offer the voters in my district is somebody that will be honest with them, will be objective and will be transparent,”; Trimble added.

Galuteria, who has spent about $68,000 since July compared with $7,600 by Trimble, said his campaign will focus on the islands' foundering economy.

“;Because of the state of the economy, because of the downturn, because of what we're all going through, it's important to preserve and maintain what we already have as we plan for the future,”; Galuteria said.

The House features contests in 27 of the 51 districts.

Twenty-two Democrats and two Republicans already have won re-election by virtue of being unopposed in the general election.

One race being watched closely is the 51st House District, where Rep. Tommy Waters stepped down.

The race pits former House Minority Leader Quentin Kawananakoa, a direct descendant of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, against political novice Chris Lee, a legislative office manager who pulled off a mild upset of another newcomer, Ikaika Anderson, in the primary.

“;I think it's going to be the ultimate test of grass roots versus money,”; said state Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz.