by Andrew Walden
For the first time since 2002, Hawaii Democrat candidates will be on the ballot in the General Election challenging every single sitting Republican incumbent legislator.
With Rep Cynthia Thielen (Kailua HD 50) retiring, the remaining Republican incumbents and their challengers are:
SD19 (Ewa) Sen Kurt Fevella vs Rep Rida Cabanilla
HD17 (Hawaii Kai) Rep Gene Ward vs Keith Kogachi
HD36 (Mililani) Rep Val Okimoto vs Trish LaChica
HD41 (Ewa) Rep Bob McDermott vs Rose Martinez
HD45 (N Shore) Rep Lauren Cheape Matsumoto vs Michael Chapman.
For Fevella, this is his first reelection campaign. Rep Cabanilla is giving up her HD40 (Ewa Beach) seat just to run against him. Cabanilla is known mostly for her decision to repeatedly and knowingly hire a convicted child molester as her legislative office manager. Snagging Cabanilla’s old spot on the Democratic ticket for HD40 is ex-Rep Matt Lopresti (D-Bizarro World) whose 2016 Senate bid was defeated by Fevella after Lopresti was caught stealing campaign flyers from constituents doors. To get back in to the seat he abandoned, Lopresti will have to overcome his own megalomania, and Republican candidate David Alcos, an ally of Fevella.
Right next door, HD41 (Ewa) Rep Bob McDermott beat Rose Martinez by 631 votes in 2018, 1,043 votes in 2016, and 1,246 votes in 2014. 2020 will be their fourth contest.
Between the 2016 defeat of Republican Senator Sam Slom and Fevella’s 2018 victory, Hawaii became notorious as the only US state to have a one-party Legislative chamber. Slom is on the General Election ballot for a rematch against Sen Stanley Chang in SD9, Hawaii Kai.
HD17 Rep Gene Ward, also in Hawaii Kai, has not faced a Democrat General Election challenger since a 2016 shellacking of Karlen Ross by a 5,402 vote margin and a 2014 victory over Chris Stamp by 4,980 votes.
This is Rep Val Okimoto’s (HD36 Mililani) first reelection campaign. Okimoto beat Marilyn Lee by 852 votes in 2018. This year, Trish Lachica beat Lee in the Democrat Primary for the right to face Okimoto in the General.
North Shore Rep Lauren Cheape Matsumoto has not faced a challenger since delivering a 1,894 vote thumping to former House Vice Speaker Michael Magaoay in 2014.
It is not all defense for the GOP. Republican candidates are angling to re-take formerly Republican seats:
In HD43, Nanakuli, Diamond Garcia is attempting to win back the seat Andria Tupola gave up to run for Governor in 2018. Tupola was just elected to Honolulu Council.
In HD47 (North Shore) Republican Boyd Ready is challenging Sean Quinlan. Quinlan took the seat from GOP Rep Feki Pouha in 2016 by a 108 vote margin. Quinlan then beat Republican Richard Fale by 1,102 votes in 2018.
In HD50, Kailua, Republican Kanani Souza is campaigning to hold on to the seat being vacated by retiring Rep Cynthia Thielen.
According to the State Office of Elections website, General Election Ballot will be delivered October 16, 2020. The all-mail-in General Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.