Campaign

Rep. Kahele announces campaign for Hawaii governor

Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) films a social media video in Statuary Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2022 following the last votes of the week.
Greg Nash
Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) films a social media video in Statuary Hall on Thursday, April 28, 2022 following the last votes of the week.

Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) said Saturday he will run for governor of the state, making formal a campaign he had hinted at for months.

Kahele will begin the contest just three months before Hawaii Democrats pick a nominee to replace term-limited Gov. David Ige (D). He is likely to be among the front-runners, along with Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) and former first lady Vicky Cayetano (D).

In a video announcing his campaign, Kahele detailed his background as a native of Hawaii’s Big Island, an Air Force veteran and a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines.

“Today, out-of-state money is corrupting our politics, polluting our state and putting our future at risk. I have a plan to stop the corruption and get the dirty money out of our state government,” he said. “I’m running for governor to send a message that Hawaii is not for sale.”

Kahele, 48, has served just one term in Congress, though he has rarely ventured to Washington in recent months. Kahele has voted in person on Capitol Hill just five times this year, all in January, Honolulu Civil Beat reported.

Kahele told the outlet in April that he had piloted three Hawaiian Airlines flights this year. He cited the coronavirus pandemic and the threat it posed to his family as his reason for voting remotely.

Kahele was elected to Congress in 2020, replacing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who gave up her seat to run for president.

The winner of the Democratic primary to replace Ige is likely to begin the general election campaign as a heavy favorite in one of the most liberal states in the nation. Hawaii has elected only one Republican in more than 60 years as a state, when former Gov. Linda Lingle (R) won two terms beginning in 2002.

Tags David Ige governor Hawaii Hawaii governor's race Josh Green Kai Kahele Kai Kahele Tulsi Gabbard

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