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First-Time Primary Election Candidates Reflect on Campaigns

Wayne Yoshioka

Running for Elected Office in Hawai’i is a daunting endeavor for many first-time candidates.But, win or lose, there are many lessons to be learned.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Lieutenant Governor Doug Chin

Lieutenant Governor Doug Chin launched his first political campaign for the U.S. Congressional District One seat.  He previously served as managing director for the City and County of Honolulu and State Attorney General.  But nothing prepared him for a state-wide race.

“I was scared.  I didn’t actually know what this was gonna be like.  You know, will my family be able to survive this or will I go into debt just because of the pressures of the campaign and I’m just happy to be able to say that I came out of the other side of it – maybe not winning this time --  but actually being someone who was able to run a clean, positive, professional campaign .  And I’m really proud of that.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Congressional Candidate Chin at Jikoen Hongwanji Bon Dance

Chin came in second in a crowded field with five other Democrats. He’s pleased with the results and learned about humility.

“I think growing up, I always felt like you should never ask for help and you should always try to turn down help but I realized, that in order to run for office, you have to put yourself in that kind of vulnerable situation and so, I did, and there was great lessons that came from that.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Sharon Moriwaki beat the incumbent by a 20 percent margin

Sharon Moriwaki ran her first campaign in Senate District 12 to represent Kaka’ako, McCully-Mo’ili’ili and Waikiki.  She was a volunteer for Kaka’ako United, which expanded representation on the Hawai’i Community Development Authority Board and limited building heights to 400 feet.  


“We did a lot of work as a community.  As a neighborhood.  But, you know, it just wasn’t enough and we were always having to watch.  And, you know, you would think they would come to us and ask us and represent our interests.  So, it was backwards.  So that’s why I decided to run.”


Moriwaki made a 50-thousand dollar loan to her campaign and set out to be a visible presence in the district.


“My mission was to get my name and my message out in the community because I was so unknown.  I sent out 7 mailers.  Every mailer was about 55-hundred dollars.”


Her strategy worked.  Moriwaki beat incumbent Senator Brickwood Galuteria by more than a 20 percent margin.  But, she says, it was a long, tough race.


“To be out there, is very difficult.  That’s why people don’t run.  It’s tough.  You’re putting yourself out there.  People ask you what do you stand for and they come after you.  And you just have to have thick skin.  You are vulnerable because you’re putting yourself on the line.”


Lieutenant Governor Chin, meanwhile, has not made any future plans, but says he’s now comfortable campaigning for public office and is proud of his family.


“I am so grateful to my wife and kids for their support.  That actually has meant more to me than anything.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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