The Curious Tale Of LG Candidates

Les Chang is running for LG on the Independent Party ticket. Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo

Les Chang is running for LG on the Independent Party ticket. Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo

I’ve seen them all seeking to be elected Hawaii governor for more than 50 years.

Quinn vs. Burns (Quinn won), Burns vs. Quinn (Burns won), Burns vs. Gill (Burns), Ariyoshi vs. Crossley (Ariyoshi, by only 5,000 votes), and Fasi twice losing to Ariyoshi.

Often strange running mates. Bill Quinn had James Kealoha, who ran solely to get Quinn’s job but didn’t; John Burns got stuck with Tom Gill, whom he despised and told me so (“Oh, no, not him!”). Randy Crossley chose the inept Ben Dillingham. Frank Fasi picked entertainer Danny Kaleikini.

We used to let governors and lieutenant governors run separately as general candidates. Then we had the parties pick LG wannabes to duke it out in the primary. Nonpartisans have to find somebody as a running mate. So NP candidate Richard Morse dropped out this month when he had the petition signatures but couldn’t get anyone to run with him.

Right on the deadline, Independent Party gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann came up with Les Chang.


Probably one of the most bashful people to hold the post as city Parks and Recreation director, he’s a 64-year-old retired Air Force colonel. He had inherited a dreadful parks-bathrooms-homeless situation that didn’t get better.

We elect governors with one eye on who will inherit the job should No. 1 become incapacitated or die. We now have veteran lawmaker Shan Tsutsui in that post under Neil Abercrombie. Almost assured for 2014

Democrat LG nominee is either Tsutsui or state Sen. Clayton Hee.

Les Chang has never run for or held any elected office, and I doubt you could find 1 percent of the state voters who know his name.

But he and Hannemann don’t have to run in the August primary because the Independent Party doesn’t have any in-house opponents. They can work on money-raising and money-spending for the November general.

On the GOP side, Duke Aiona is the only legit candidate for governor (Jeff Davis is running but says he’s really a Libertarian), while New Hope pastor Elwin Ahu and GOP activist Kimo Sutton slug it out for lieutenant governor. Neither of those would bring much sparkle to an Aiona campaign in the general. Aiona was Linda Lingle’s lieutenant governor, but his religious conservatism failed to connect with voters in the governor’s race four years ago. Aiona does have statewide name recognition. Ahu and Sutton do not.

Expect Abercrombie to easily defeat David Ige, who has little money and an inferior campaign team.

It will be Abercrombie-Tsutsui or -Hee, Aiona-Ahu and Hannemann-Chang in the general.

The common buzz: Hannemann is likely to draw off more Aiona voters than Abercrombie voters. That’s an Abercrombie advantage in a three-person race. Abercrombie wins.

Tsutsui or Hee go for governor in 2018. Maybe so do Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and whoever loses the Schatz-Hanabusa senatorial race.