Voters send Ruderman to first Senate term


Democratic newcomer Russell Ruderman handily defeated Republican opponent Daryl Lee Smith in the General Election Tuesday night, securing the Keaau resident the state Senate District 2 seat.

“It feels good,” said Ruderman, who will represent constituents in eastern Ka‘u and lower Puna, areas he described as being “underserved. I am very excited to honestly represent the interests of Puna and Ka‘u districts in the Legislature.”

Ruderman garnered 10,319 votes, or 77 percent of votes cast for the position. Smith received 3,115 votes. Ruderman assumes a seat vacated by Gilbert Kahele, who because of reapportionment ran for and secured the District 1 Senate seat in the primary election.

His rival, Smith, never came within 50 percentage points, giving the Island Naturals proprietor a nice lead throughout the night. He said he was more confident about being elected during the General Election than the August primary thanks to a push by the Democratic Party.

“It was a long campaign, but it was very nice to see Democrats come together during the primary and then remain united after,” he said, adding this year’s voter turnout appears better than years past. “It’s great so many people came out.”

In his first term, Ruderman hopes to address a lack of infrastructure, including roads, hospitals and schools, promote the two districts as agricultural hubs, create jobs, expand solar power use in the state and protect and expand clean elections programs.

In the August primary, Ruderman defeated Bob Herkes to win the Democratic nomination. Ruderman garnered 3,001 votes, or 38 percent of ballots cast in the four-way race for the Democratic nod. Herkes, who has served in the state House for two decades, got 2,620 votes, or 33 percent.