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Stories about Hawaii

Kaiali’i Kahele resigns from Hawaii state Senate to join U.S. House of Representatives

Kaiali’i Kahele (D) resigned from the Hawaii state Senate on Dec. 16 after being elected to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Kahele defeated Joseph Akana (R), 63% to 31%, on Nov. 3. Kahele will be sworn in to the U.S. House on Jan. 3, 2021.

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Kahele to the District 1 seat in February 2016 to replace Gil Kahele (D), Kahele’s deceased father. Kaiali’i Kahele represented District 1 from 2016 to 2020. 

According to Hawaii law, the governor appoints a replacement within 60 days when a vacancy occurs in the state Senate. The political party that last held the vacant seat has 30 days to provide the governor with a list of three prospective candidates. The party to submit a list of prospective candidates. According to a report in Big Island Video News, “The selection body will meet electronically on Wednesday, December 23, at 6:00 p.m. to identify three names to forward on to the Governor.” 

As of Dec. 21, there have been 129 state legislative vacancies in 41 states during 2020. Ninety-seven (97) of those vacancies have been filled. Of the 129 vacancies, 71 are Republican, and 58 are Democratic. Republicans have filled 49 vacancies, while Democrats have filled 48. 

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Todd Eddins joins Hawaii Supreme Court 

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

Todd Eddins was sworn in to the Hawaii Supreme Court as an associate justice on Dec. 11. Founded in 1959, the Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has five judgeships. Of the five current justices, Democratic governors appointed four, and a Republican governor—Linda Lingle—appointed one. 

Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Eddins on Oct. 23 to replace retired Justice Richard W. Pollack. Pollack retired on June 30 when he met the mandatory retirement age of 70. The Hawaii State Senate unanimously confirmed Eddins on Nov. 19. Before joining the court, Eddins was a judge of the O`ahu First Circuit Court from 2017 to 2020.

Hawaii’s supreme court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection. The Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the governor, who then appoints a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve renewable 10-year terms, which are approved or denied by the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission. 

Eddins was Gov. Ige’s first nomination to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Upon nominating Eddins, Gov. Ige said, “Judge Eddins has the vast knowledge and experience necessary to serve on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. He has the respect of his peers and I know that he will be a welcome addition to the state’s highest court.”  

In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, one vacancy occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements. As of Dec. 14, 20 of those vacancies have been filled.  

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Hawaii senate confirms Eddins to state supreme court

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

On November 19, 2020, the Hawaii State Senate confirmed Todd Eddins to succeed Justice Richard W. Pollack on the Hawaii Supreme Court. Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Eddins to the court on October 23, 2020. Eddins is Ige’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

The seat became vacant when Pollack retired on June 30, 2020, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.

Under Hawaii law, state supreme court justices are selected through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate.

Eddins became a judge of the O’ahu First Circuit of Hawaii in 2017 after being appointed by Gov. Ige on February 9. The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Eddins on March 3, 2017.

Before his appointment to the O’ahu First Circuit, Eddins worked as a trial lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender. He also served as a clerk for Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Eddins earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William & Mary and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawaii Law Review.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of October 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

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At least four mayoral offices changed partisan control in the 100 largest cities Nov. 3

Twenty-nine of the 100 largest U.S. cities held mayoral elections in 2020. Of the 24 elections called so far, four party changes have taken place, with Republicans losing three offices and Democrats losing one. Democrats and independents each flipped two offices:

• In Honolulu, Hawaii, independent Rick Blangiardi won the open seat. Democratic mayor Kirk Caldwell was term-limited.

• In Irvine, California, Democrat Farrah Khan defeated incumbent Christina Shea (R).

• In San Diego, California, Democrat Todd Gloria won the open seat. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer (R), was term-limited.

• In Scottsdale, Arizona, independent David Ortega won the open seat. Incumbent Jim Lane (R) was term-limited.

In those four cities—and in most of the nation’s largest cities—mayoral elections are officially nonpartisan, though many officeholders and candidates are affiliated with political parties. Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2020.

In 15 of the 29 cities that held elections in 2020, the incumbent was Republican at the start of 2020. Twelve incumbents were Democratic, one was independent, and one was nonpartisan.

Mayoral races in Riverside and Stockton, California, remain undecided. December runoff elections for mayor will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Dec. 5); Corpus Christi, Texas (Dec. 12); and El Paso, Texas (Dec. 15).

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Hawaii governor appoints Eddins to state supreme court

Image of the Hawaii Supreme Court building in Honolulu.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Todd Eddins to the Hawaii Supreme Court on October 23, 2020. Pending confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate, Eddins will succeed Justice Richard W. Pollack, who retired on June 30, 2020, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years. Eddins is Ige’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

Under Hawaii law, state supreme court justices are selected through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate.

Eddins became a judge of the O’ahu First Circuit of Hawaii in 2017 after being appointed by Gov. Ige on February 9. The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Eddins on March 3, 2017.

Before his appointment to the O’ahu First Circuit, Eddins worked as a trial lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender. He also served as a clerk for Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Eddins earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawaii Law Review.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of October 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.

In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.

Additional reading:



Finalists for open Hawaii Supreme Court seat announced September 29, Gov. Ige to make selection by October 29

Hawaii’s judicial nominating commission published its list of four nominees for a state supreme court vacancy on September 29, 2020. The nominees are Judge Todd Eddins, David Forman, Judge Darolyn Lendio Heim, and Benjamin Lowenthal. Gov. David Ige (D) will appoint one of the four to the state supreme court with consent from the state Senate. Ige has 30 days to select his nominee after receiving the list.

The vacancy occurred when Justice Richard W. Pollack reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 years and retired on June 30, 2020. Pollack joined the court in 2012. His replacement will be the first nomination Gov. Ige makes to the five-member state supreme court. The most recent appointment to the court was made in 2014 by Ige’s predecessor, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D).

In Hawaii, state supreme court justices are chosen through the assisted appointment method. Under this appointment method, Hawaii’s judicial nominating committee recommends four to six potential nominees to the governor, who chooses a nominee from the list. The governor’s nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate. Justices serve 10-year terms. If they wish to serve additional terms, they must stand for retention before the state judicial nominating commission. 

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia use the assisted appointment method for their courts of last resort. Seven states use gubernatorial or legislative appointments, 15 use nonpartisan elections, and six use partisan elections.

As of October 1, 2020, 21 state supreme court seats had been vacated in 2020, 10 vacancies had been filled, and 11 remained vacant.

Additional reading:
Assisted appointment (judicial selection)
Hawaii Supreme Court
Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission



Hawaii voters decide August 8 congressional primaries

The congressional primary election for Hawaii was held on August 8, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District:
• Incumbent Ed Case advanced unopposed from the Democratic primary. Ron Curtis advanced from the Republican primary. He received 40.9% of the vote; James Dickens and Nancy Olson were the only other candidates who earned more than 20% of the vote. Three race forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Democratic.

• Nonpartisan candidate Calvin Griffin also appeared on the primary ballot. Hawaii election law requires nonpartisan candidates in partisan races to receive at least 10% of the votes cast for the office or to receive a vote total equal to or greater than the lowest vote total of a winning partisan candidate in order to advance to the general election. Griffin did not meet that threshold.

Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District:

• Joseph Akana advanced from the Republican primary. He earned 43.6% of the vote. Elise Hatsuko Kaneshiro was the only other candidate who earned more than 10% of the vote. In the Democratic primary, Kaiali’i Kahele advanced with 76.5% of the vote. The next-highest vote-getter was Brian Evans, who earned 9.4% of the vote. Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D) did not run for re-election. Three race forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Democratic.

Entering the 2020 election, Hawaii’s U.S. congressional delegation has two Democratic senators and two Democratic representatives. The U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Only 33 out of 100 Senate seats are up for regular election, and two seats are up for special election this year. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

Hawaii’s primary was the 38th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next primary was scheduled for August 11 in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

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Hawaii voters decide state executive, legislative primaries

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

The statewide primary election for Hawaii took place on August 8. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3.

Candidates ran in elections for the following state offices:

Office of Hawaiian Affairs (four seats)

Incumbent Dan Ahuna won the election outright for Kaua’i and Ni’ihau Resident Trustee after receiving more than 50% of the vote in the primary. The other three races for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have advanced to the general election.

State Senate (13 seats)

All 11 incumbents who filed to run advanced to the general election.

State House (51 seats)

Three races remained uncalled as of August 12. Incumbent Romy Cachola was defeated in the Democratic primary by Ernesto Ganaden. Each incumbent who filed to run for re-election—with the exception of Cachola—advanced to the general election in the races that had been called.

Ballotpedia also covered local elections in the city of Honolulu. Honolulu is a consolidated city-county and is the 11th largest city by population in the United States.

Hawaii has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Kahele wins Democratic nomination to succeed Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District

Hawaii State Sen. Kaiali’i Kahele defeated Brian Evans, Brenda Lee, and Noelle Famera to win the Democratic nomination in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District Aug. 8. Kahele received 77% of the vote to Evans’ 9%, Lee’s 8%, and Famera’s 6%.

Kahele, who has served in the Hawaii state Senate since 2016, said his policy priorities were increasing funding for public education, expanding access to healthcare, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Both Evans and Famera completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Evans, who was the Republican nominee for the seat in 2018 and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, said he would focus on ending the disrespectful treatment of sacred land, increasing tax rates on foreign residents, and responding to medical errors.

Famera, a businesswoman with experience in insurance sales, said she supported a universal basic income program, a data rights bill, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D), who was first elected in 2012, ran for president this year rather than seeking re-election. Gabbard won each general election in the 2nd District by a margin of 50 percentage points or greater, and election forecasters say the district is safely Democratic.



Hawaii to hold congressional primaries August 8

The statewide primary election for Hawaii is on August 8, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on June 2. Voters will elect one candidate from each of the state’s two congressional districts to serve in the U.S. House.

Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Hawaii’s primary is the 38th statewide primary to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide primaries will be held on August 11 in the following states:
• Connecticut
• Minnesota
• Vermont

• Wisconsin