Many Democrats running unopposed

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Legislature will remain controlled by Democrats after a primary election where many Democratic incumbents ran unopposed.

There were 16 uncontested races in the elections for the state Senate and House, and all but one of the unopposed candidates were Democrats.

There also were eight races featuring only Democrats, and just one only-Republican race that pitted longtime Rep. Cynthia Thielen against a challenger.

“It’s almost to the point where the Republican Party doesn’t exist anymore in Hawaii,” said Tate Robinson, 69, a Republican retiree who voted at Kahala Elementary School. “The bottom line is we’ve turned the state over to the Democrats, and they’re not really doing what they need to do in the long run.”

Republicans have long struggled to gain a powerful presence in the Legislature.

There are currently only seven Republicans in the 51-seat House. In the 25-member Senate, lone Republican Sam Slom ran unopposed in his primary. He’ll be challenged by Democrat Stanley Chang, a former Honolulu City Council member, in the November general election. If Chang wins, the state Senate will have only Democrats.

The prospect of an all-Democrat state Senate gave even some Democratic voters pause Saturday.

“I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, but I’m still definitely a fan of a two-party system,” said Rich Turbin, 70, a lawyer who lives in Kahala. “Sen. Slom, he’s a man of integrity, and he’s been playing a very important role.”

Ian Murakami, an 18-year-old a senior at Punahou High School, said a one-party Senate might be a good thing.

“I feel like if there’s a lot of diversity, it will block them from getting things done, kind of like what’s happening in Washington,” Murakami said.

Democratic Senate President Ronald Kouchi won his primary, and he heads to the general election unopposed. House Speaker Joe Souki won his primary will face a Republican challenger in the fall.


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