It is the top executive office in the state of Hawaii. The governor is the leader of the state and will determine the path of Hawaii for at least the next four years. This is an office of such great importance, Desperate America Report and the Honolulu Coffee Party Examiner have chosen to split the Republican and Democrat primary battles into separate articles. We will be focusing on the top two contenders from each party instead of the entire list of candidates. Today we will take a look at the Republican primary candidates. It earned the chance at being first by a 3-2 coin flip margin. The Republicans are looking to continue their hold on Hawaii’s top office with the last eight years being the Lingle administration.
James “Duke” Aiona Jr. has spent the last eight years as Lt. Governor of Hawaii. He has been the right hand man for Gov. Lingle. Aiona began his public service career as a deputy prosecutor for the City and County of Honolulu. His time as a deputy prosecutor earned him a reputation as being a fierce competitor in the courtroom. His efforts were awarded in 1990 when he earned an appointment as a Family Court judge in the Hawaii State Judiciary. He would become the first primary judge and the architect of the Hawaii Drug Court Program which began in 1996. The program offers drug rehabilitation as a way for non-violent offenders to stay out of prison and instead take steps to become law-abiding and contributing members of the community. 85% of the offenders stay in the program and out of prison.
Aiona took his work towards a drug free Hawaii into his role as Lt. Governor in 2002. In just a year, Aiona’s work led to the first Drug Control Strategy Summit in Hawaii. The project brought together government agencies, nonprofit organizations and community leaders. The coalition hashed out a far-reaching strategy which included community mobilization, prevention, treatment and strong law enforcement to deal with illegal drug and alcohol use. Since the initial summit, the rates of production and use of crystal meth has dropped in Hawaii.
The St. Louis School alum aims to improve the education of Hawaii’s youth, specifically in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math areas. The STEM initiative has received the support of Aiona throughout his time as Lt. Governor. Aiona believes this investment will foster private sector growth in Hawaii as well as help the state move towards a clean energy future. He will use these points to reduce the tax burden on Hawaii’s families and local businesses.
Former State Sen. John Carroll faces an uphill battle trying to pull the upset in the Republican primary. Carroll came to Hawaii to play football at the University of Hawaii. He would earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from UH and would go on to earn a professional teaching certificate. Carroll enlisted into the US Army and served in Korea during the war. He would later transfer to the Air Force and serve as a fighter pilot instructor.
Carroll was a four term member of the Hawaii state house and also served in state senate. He authored Hawaii’s Code of Military Justice. The legislation would earn him the Air Force Commendation Medal for his efforts. Carroll’s leadership in the legislature would result in his election as the Hawaii GOP Chairman. He continues to practice law with offices on Oahu and the Big Island.
The former Air Force pilot points to the high tax rates in Hawaii as a major problem. Carroll believes that a lower tax burden will allow working families to afford the necessary items and will free up money for small businesses around the islands. The money saved would then be circulated into the local economy. He has also called for an examination of the spending and programs of the Hawaii Department of Education. The audit would find where the money is being spent and would find the value in the various programs of the department.
The path to the Republican ticket goes through Lt. Governor Aiona. He is the leading contender and is second behind Gov. Lingle as the top GOP member in Hawaii. Carroll has experience running tough campaigns and has the tenacity of a retired military man. Currently both candidates are behind in the polls pitting each in a theoretical contest against either of the top two Democratic challengers. Most of the polls have Aiona having a small advantage over Carroll of only 3%. That does little to raise the expectations of the underdog Carroll. The Lt. Governor has the financial war chest advantage and also holds powerful allies. The race will likely result in a one-sided victory for the former Family Court judge and a November showdown with a tough Democratic candidate. Anything more than that is anyone’s guess.
Join us on Friday as we take a look at the big race for the Democratic ticket between Neil Abercrombie and Mufi Hannemann. The race is expected to be fierce and bloody. Also remember to stay with Desperate America Report and the Honolulu Coffee Party Examiner for coverage of the races leading up to the September primary.
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