Joshua Green defeated Vicky Cayetano, Kaiali’i Kahele, and four other candidates in Hawaii’s Democratic gubernatorial primary on August 13, 2022. Incumbent David Ige (D) was term-limited.
Green is Hawaii’s current lieutenant governor and an emergency room physician. He said, “I’m running for Governor because Hawaii needs elected leaders we can trust — to tell us the truth, keep us safe and informed, to care about working families, and to be transparent and accountable to the people.” Green highlighted his role serving as COVID liaison while lieutenant governor. His campaign website said, “Josh led the largest healthcare response in state history, pulling Hawaii together to vaccinate over a million people, protect our kupuna, and save thousands of lives.”
Cayetano co-founded Hawaii’s largest laundry company and served as president and CEO for 34 years. Cayetano said, “My record of building a business of a thousand employees and supporting our community is one of action and results.” She said, “I have a vision, I make payroll, know how to be a CEO. Government should be run like business. We keep talking about the same issues, and we need a new perspective. It’s time for a new perspective to solve the problems.” In 1997, Cayetano married Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano (D), who served as governor until 2002.
Kahele was elected to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020. Kahele is a combat veteran, a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard, and a commercial pilot. Kahele said, “Congress established our great state in 1959 on the condition that the State of Hawaiʻi would establish and manage the ceded Public Land Trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and the general public. Ensuring that the state restores its kuleana to manage this public trust is a foundation of my platform for governor.” Kahele said he was “running for governor on a grassroots, publicly funded campaign[.]” He said, “While other candidates are taking corporate money and checks of up to $6,000, I will not accept donations from any individual of more than a hundred bucks.”
Affordable housing was a central theme in the race. Green said he would “[i]mmediately issue an executive order to all state and county housing agencies to speed up construction of affordable housing by eliminating red tape, streamlining processes and approvals, and coordinating efforts to address the crisis.”
Cayetano’s campaign website stated, “[I]n addition to accelerating housing projects that are specific to Native Hawaiians and are taking place within the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), I would make the availability of affordable rental housing my highest priority.”
Kahele said he would “[build] targeted workforce housing; [develop] fee mechanisms through tax-exempt bonds and bond activity caps; and [build] out housing plans specific to urban Honolulu and the rest of the state.”
Cayetano, Green, and Kahele disagreed on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project, a plan to construct a $2.65 billion telescope on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. Cayetano supported the project, Kahele opposed the plans as they stood at the time, and Green said he supported large projects like the telescope if they were done with respect between cultures.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser‘s Dan Nakaso, the candidates also disagreed on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Nakaso wrote, “Kahele and Green support legalizing recreational marijuana, with caveats, while Cayetano is opposed.”
Major independent observers rate the general election as solid Democratic or safe Democratic. Ige was first elected in 2014 and won re-election in 2018 by a margin of 29 percentage points. Democrats have held trifecta control of Hawaii’s state government since 2011.