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Kahele Announces Bid for Governor

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Less than two years after being elected to Congress, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele announced on Saturday he’s launching his run for governor.

Kahele’s announcement was delivered during a press conference in his hometown of Hilo.

“You, the people of Hawaiʻi, deserve a governor who truly understands our island values of
kindness, respect, inclusiveness, and aloha,” Kahele said. “I am running for Governor because this election, up until today, is being owned and controlled by big money. Lobbyists, cynics, special interests, corporations, and wealthy mainland donors who want to control the economic and political life of this state.”

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He called his campaign “grass-roots.” He announced that he will be participating in the state’s public funding program and that the campaign will not be taking single donations greater than $100.

Kahele’s entrance into the gubernatorial race wasn’t unexpected, as reports based on unnamed inside sources circulated that the lawmaker would enter. Later in the week, those reports became more substantiated.

Now that it is official, it marks a significant political dust-up ― not only in the election for the next governor but in the race for his current congressional seat that represents Hawaii’s second district.

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Kahele was appointed to the Hawaiʻi State Senate by Gov. David Ige in February, 2016 following the death of his father, the late Sen. Gil Kahele. He was subsequently elected and re-elected in 2016 and 2018.

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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