The Man, Behind the Man, Behind the Man

A quick guide on what to look for as a Honolulu voter, for Mayor

There is a quote that my friends and I say from time to time, talking about politics: “He is the man, behind the man, behind the man”.

To us it is kind of a joke when we say it, laughing with the realization that this is the how “politics in Hawaii” really works.

More recently, that realization came to pass as I have started evaluating the race for Mayor of Honolulu, and who is running. Unlike in past elections, where the “support” (or muscle, or main campaign money bundler) was hard to find, this upcoming election season sees those people coming out from the shadows, if you will, and standing behind “their man” (or woman).

And it’s those people that stand behind that person are the people that the electorate should pay attention to. I dare even say that the electorate should pay attention to them even more than the candidate themselves.

Let’s first define who these “behind people” really are. They are typically aligned with one or more sects of a community. For instance, they may be from the business sect, such as bankers and those in the tourism industry.

Some come from the legal industry – mostly other lawyers who seem, in my experience, to have a lot of money at the ready for a candidate’s committee to ask. They tend to blend into the political sect, which are made up of office holders and even their support staff.

Of course, you have the more specific groups that come together for a common cause, and with numbers push certain candidates or ideas. And from time to time, they become the most influential in an election. For instance, the teacher unions in Hawaii were pivotal in supporting the candidacy and victory of David Ige in 2014 over Neil Abercrombie.

Another one, of course, is ethnicity. But that is a subject that could be explored in another article, another time.

Back to the Honolulu mayors’ race, one glaring observation is who is supporting Mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya. Popping out of nowhere, politically, Keith seems to have become a key name in the race. His backers are what I would call the current “Tai Pan’s” of Bishop Street (where most big business in Hawaii takes place).

Sometimes the people behind are the ones with real money.

Those people part of this Bishop St. group includes founder of AIO Duane Kurisu, Micah Kane of the Hawaii Community Foundation, Colbert Matsumoto of Island Insurance, among other big-named business leaders in Hawaii.

These are people who exist in the category of “mover and shaker” from sun up to way past sun down, every day, in Hawaii.

For another candidate, Colleen Hanabusa, her power is coming from a hodgepodge of trade unions along with power players in the political realm. These backers includes the carpenter and electrical unions. For the political realm, bakers include Honlolulu City Council Chair Ikaika Anderson and former Congressman and City Council member Charles Djou.

For recently declared candidate Kymberly Pine, her support seems to come from a much more grassroots, diverse group. Among those who strongly supported her in the past, include real estate firms, insurance companies, and the health industry.

Each one of these groups has their own reasons for backing a candidate, and as you can imagine, expected deliverables should that candidate be successful. While we cannot get into all the nuances of what each of these parties want in this piece, I think it is important that as a Akamai voter, you should know who is really the “man, behind the man, behind the man” for this race.