Incumbent Malama Solomon defeated former state legislator Lorraine Inouye to become the Democratic nominee for Hawaii Island’s new state Senate seat Saturday night, while businessman Russell Ruderman ensured long-time Big Island representative Robert Herkes will not return to the Legislature.
Solomon squeaked by Inouye, getting 3,866 votes, or 51 percent, less than 100 votes more than Inouye, who took 3,788.
“It was a realy tough campaign from day one,” Solomon said, noting the campaign began with efforts to get Hawaii Island its fourth Senate seat during the redistricting process. She said Inouye was also a tough opponent, with her significant political experience at the county and state levels.
Solomon will take on Green Party candidate Kelly Greenwell, a former Hawaii County Council member, for the 4th Senate District. The new 4th District encompasses North and South Kohala, Hamakua and portions of North Kona.
Incumbent Gilbert Kahele prevailed over outgoing Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda in the Democratic primary for the island’s 1st Senate District. That success sends Kahele to the Senate for his second term, because no Republicans had entered the race.
Kahele did not respond to a message left late Saturday evening. He won 6,727 votes, or 59 percent of ballots cast, compared with Ikeda’s 4,764 votes.
Republican Jeff LaFrance will run against Democrat Josh Green, the 3rd Senate District incumbent, who was unopposed in the election. LaFrance defeated John Totten, getting 788 votes to Totten’s 665.
“I am doing this out of love of my state,” LaFrance said. “I am totally honored that people are putting me in the race.”
In Senate District 2, Ruderman topped 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.
Ruderman did not respond to a message seeking comment Saturday evening. He will face Republican Daryl Lee Smith, who was unopposed on the GOP ticket.
The 1st District includes much of North Hilo, while the 2nd District covers South Hilo, Puna and the eastern portion of Ka‘u. District 3 is the remainder of North Kona and Ka‘u.