So curious, why now?

At times, an article for Politics Hawaii with Stan Fichtman comes together because of a question from a friend. In this case, an email asking about the recent “retirement” (or resignation) of Hawaii State Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who represents Maui. 

Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran
PC: Ballotpedia at

So, circling back to the email from a friend, this blogger provided his manaʻo to the friend about the resignation of Keith Agaran. 

Here is what was said, which surprisingly seemed good enough for the latest post, with some words changed to make it a bit more sophisticated, but not changing any of the context of the piece. 


So, I have been trying to discern the news, the comments and just seeing the overall landscape at Senate Ways and Means/Senate leadership to see what is the “story below the story” on this one. As you know the current narrative is that Agaran is resigning to become a litigator in cases stemming from Lahaina and that he will get a lot of money from it. 

And if you left the story at that level, you get about 60% of the total story, enough for the layman and, frankly for most people who are already stretched like a rubber band over all this. 

But what is that 40%, you may ask? 

The answer is where he sits, who his bosses are, and in essence, what is more impactful with this circumstance now upon us. If you play this scenario out, he probably looked at where he sits now, vice chair of Senate Ways and Means (WAM), and realizes that leadership in the Senate is not going to move (Current WAM Chair Donovan) Dela Cruz, nor is leadership going to change anytime soon. (State Senate President Ronald) Kouchi has that chamber locked up and could stay there until the day he dies. So if I were Agaran, and looking at the “biggest bang for the buck” regarding making a mark in this situation, being Vice Chair of WAM is not going to get there. Dela Cruz is going to do whatever he wants to do, and it may be against what Agaran thinks should be done. So better to just call it a day in the Senate and go into the litigation world, make money and reputation for being a Robin Hood in the community during the time of litigation. 

Now what does that recognition get him? Let’s play this out. 

Agaran is a litigator, gets on TV tons of times at court cases and his name is all over the place. He gets judgments that help the people and the people fawn all over him. People who see that he was genuine in his work even though he became a millionaire doing it, will say that “this is the type of leadership we want for Maui”, and drag him to run for Mayor. 

Now could that happen in 3 years or so…. if the litigation goes fast and he has won, sure! He gets two things out of that move 1. Name notorieties not just at the Senate level, but statewide because of his role in this; and 2. The ability to try for even higher offices after the mayor. 

Power dynamics in the Hawaii State Senate (and even the House if someone in that body is appointed to replace Agaran) could either radically change who sits on powerful committees, or be a blip. We’ll have to see.
PC: “Senate” by drewtarvin is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

And what office is that…Governor. US House, US Senator. The man just opened opportunities for him that are not available to him being Dela Cruz’s second in command that gets him limited influence and even less name recognition. And since the bench feeds into the Governor. Lt Gov. and US House/Senate are not exactly brimming over with good talent, Agaran could be setting himself up to be an A-list choice when offices come open. 

Now I know that this is highly theoretical after the first paragraph, but it is something that makes complete sense if Agaran wants to stay in the political reams, but needs to level up for bigger prizes. This is what I suspect the 40% is all about.


The response from this interested friend was as follows. 

. . . Historically, a Neighbor Island Gubernatorial candidate was challenged — until Linda Lingle, former Maui County Mayor, won the Gubernatorial election. Then former Senator/Lt. Governor Josh Green, from Kona, was elected Governor, so there is now greater potential for a Neighbor Island Governor.


Thanks to this “interested friend” for the question to Politics Hawaii with Stan Fichtman. 

And happy Labor Day 2023.