Josh Green Beats Congressman Kaiali’I Kahele in Hawaii's Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

He will face former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona in the November general election

Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii Josh Green will be the Democratic candidate for governor after winning the state’s primary.

Governor David Ige cannot seek reelection due to term limits. Hawaii holds vote-by-mail elections with many ballots cast in July. 

“On to November, we will win the governorship and lead Hawaii forward,” Green said during his victory speech on Aug. 14. He secured roughly 64% of the vote. 

Green, an emergency room doctor, emerged as a front runner from a pack of six other challengers. He is known for leading Hawaii’s COVID-19 response, including updating residents on social media about the state’s hospitalization and case rate. 

“I ended up being in people’s living rooms, kind of metaphorically, because of all the time where we had to tell them what was going on, what we could expect and where we were going,” Green said during an appearance on Hawaii News Now’s “Job Interview.”

“I was aggressive in my attempt to make sure people had the actual data in real time,” he added. “The way I approached the crisis was, and being the liaison meant that I had to liaise with the health people, the people in the hospitals, the public health officials, national leaders, actually people on the ground.”

Green was endorsed by a number of unions, including the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. The doctor grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to the state in 2000 while serving with the National Health Service Corps.

During the campaign, super PAC Victory Calls 2022 spent $33,000 on television ads that questioned Green’s medical credentials. According to Honolulu Civil Beat, Green does not have a board certification in emergency room medicine, which is not required to practice. 

The PAC contributed to Green’s competitor Democrat businesswoman Vicky Cayetano, who denied having a connection to the PAC. 

Cayetano was the primary’s second-place finisher with 21% of the vote.

Congressman Kaiali’i Kahele received 14%. The commercial airline pilot announced he would leave his current office to run for governor in May. The decision surprised some political analysts in the state who predicted Kahele would win a bid for reelection. 

Out-of-state money is corrupting our politics, polluting our state and putting our future at risk,” Kahele said in his announcement. “I have a plan to stop the corruption and get the dirty money out of our state government.”

Kahele caught national media attention in April after the Honolulu Civic Beat reported the first-term congressman had not voted in person since January. Kahele said through a spokesperson that he was not traveling to the mainland to limit his exposure to COVID-19 but was casting votes by proxy. 

The congressman’s seat in Congressional District 2, representing Oahu and the Neighbor Islands, will be filled by former State Senator Jill Tokuda, who won the Democratic primary, or Air Force veteran and businessman Joseph Akana, the Republican nominee.

Former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona won the Republican Party’s Hawaii Governor Primary. He previously ran for governor in 2010 and 2014.

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