Aug. 12 (UPI) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige overcame a “challenging” campaign to win a chance for re-election on Saturday night.
Ige, who has served as governor of Hawaii since 2014, gathered 124,528 votes in the Democratic gubernatorial primary election to defeat the next closest challenger, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa who received 107,583 votes.
“Thank you for sticking with us through a very challenging, but rewarding campaign. I just got off the phone with Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa and she wished us congratulations. More importantly, she pledged her support so that we can elect a Democratic governor,” Ige said according to Hawaii’s KHON2.
Hanabusa led Ige public opinion polls by as many as 20 points as recently as March after many Hawaiians were displeased by the governor’s handling of a false ballistic missile alert sent to islanders in January.
Campaign worker Hubert Minn told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Ige managed to turn the tides back in his favor — leading Hanabusa by four points in a mid-July poll — by “shaking people’s hands, looking them in the eye and really talking to them.”
“We got him back up and kept him in the game. We did two to three events a week where people could meet and talk to him and we saw the polls move,” Minn said.
Hanabusa conceded the Democratic race in a speech at about 10:30 p.m. and said the election was important as it gave the Party’s voters choices.
“I don’t want anyone to feel like you didn’t do enough or that you could have done more,” she said. “What we will start tomorrow as Democrats is hopefully the healing process.”
Ige will go on to face Hawaii House Republican Leader Rep. Andria Tupola, who defeated former state Sen. John Carroll 17,282 votes to 10,969.
Hanabusa added she was “not sure that I’ll run for any kind of political office again” and confirmed that she offered Ige her support.
“I told the governor it was an honor to run against him and that I’m there to make sure he becomes successful in the general election, and whatever I can do to help him because I think that’s what defines us as Democrats,” she told KHON2.