As of the writing of this piece, there have been two gubernatorial debates between current Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona. Green represents the Democratic nomination, and Aiona the Republican. The two debates were one with Civil Beat, and then another on television station Channel 2, KHON.
Even with so few debates between the two candidates (and in the case of the KHON debate, a discussion with the running mates for each ticket), there are several observations that this pundit can make on the results. Allow this humble blogger to provide those for your review.
HISTORICAL PRECEDENT. This is the first general election for Governor where both candidates from the main parties (Republican/Democrat) have been or are currently the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii. The last time Hawaii had a Lt. Governor who was a Republican was James Kealoha, who served under William F. Quinn, the first Governor when Hawaii became a state in 1959, and his primary run for governor against Quinn in 1962, failed. Since then, more times than not, there has been at least one candidate that was Lieutenant Governor (Ariyoshi, Waihee, Cayetano, Hirono), running for Governor against whomever the Republican candidate was.
GO FOR THE EMOTIONAL, BECAUSE YOUR IDEAS ARE ‘MEH’. The big news takeaway from both forums is that the issue of abortion elicited a good amount of banter from both sides. However, only one side is trying to use the emotional aspect of the issue to make their point, which is Josh Green. Green has pulled the playbook used by many Democrats on the Continent to tell the voters that if they elect Aiona, their rights will be eliminated because that is what Republicans want to do, and Aiona is a Republican. Aiona circles back with an answer which cites that abortion in Hawaii is, for now, a settled matter.
A theory as to why Green is trying to use abortion as the wedge issue in debates, it seems is that when asked about his policies on other matters, he does not have a strong narrative in addressing those issues. And, in some ways, Green might angle more toward Aiona in his ideas, which would make this exercise of voting almost moot. So go for the emotional, and hope people don’t look into the issue to find out what the real story is.
Another theory is that Green feels that he is a shoo-in and that all he has to do right now is phone it in, and get the win in November.
IF HE GETS TRIGGERED NOW, JUST THINK WHAT HE’LL BE LIKE AS GOVERNOR, going back to the Civil Beat debate on October 3rd (look for this happening at the 33-minute mark), Josh Green would go from being somewhat level-headed in his responses to being downright triggered by Aiona. (Emotional triggers, also called mental health triggers or psychological triggers, are things (e.g. memories, objects, people) that spark intense negative emotions. This change in emotions can be abrupt, and in most cases, it will feel more severe than what the trigger would logically call for). Maybe having a little fire is what Green thinks Hawaii needs, but he will have to learn that the high emotional response to any one issue is only going to be tolerated for so long. Maybe if he is elected, Green will evolve into a more level-headed person than what he is showing in these debates.
NOW THAT’S THE OLD DUKE. One thing of fear going into the general election was that, once again, Duke Aiona, the Republican nominee, was going to come across as a weaker, less energetic candidate than that Green. Considering that Green was already coming off of a primary where it was felt it was more a Democratic Party coronation than just a nomination, Aiona needed to bring his whole self into the race if he had a chance to win. While it is not the same Aiona as seen back in 2003 when he spoke to the membership of the Hawaii Kai Jaycees, it’s a better Aiona this time than what he was in 2010 or even the 2014 race. Regardless of the result, seeing fire in Aiona can only help the political process in Hawaii.
SYLVIA, LOOK AT THE VOTERS. During the KHON debate on Wednesday, October 5th,
there was a segment where the Lt. Governor candidates – Sylvia Luke for the Green ticket, and Seaula Junior Tupa’i with Aiona – were asked questions by Kristine Uyeno. The answers by both candidates didn’t stand out, but the way that they answered them, did. For Luke, she almost, if ever, looked at the camera when answering the question. Instead, she looked at the questioner with the camera angle only showing half of Luke’s face. It was as if she wanted to convince the questioner that her answer was satisfactory. Hint to Luke – the people who are going to hire you are the ones in the camera, not the questioner.
At least Tupaʻi looked at the camera, and you could see his whole face because he got it that he was talking to voters, not Uyeno.
Mail-in ballots to the voters of Hawaii drop on October 21st and the election will be called on November 8th.