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2024 Primary Elections: Several state, federal races already decided

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County races aren’t the only games in town when it comes to the 2024 election cycle on the Big Island. Also on this year’s ballot are several state and federal challenges.

The deadline to file papers to be on this year’s Primary Election ballot was June 4.

Christy Aragon cast her ballot in Kona for the 2022 General Election. (File photo by Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now

This year’s state elections will feature another head-to-head matchup between former state Sen. Laura Acasio of Hilo and incumbent state Sen. Lorraine Inouye for Hawai‘i Senate District 1.

The two faced off for the same seat in 2022 in a special election after the Hawai‘i Reapportionment Commission created new state Senate boundaries that shifted Inouye out of District 4, which she had represented since 2014, and into District 1, which was being represented by Acasio after she was appointed in January 2021 by then-Gov. David Ige after former state Sen. Kai Kahele vacated the seat to run for U.S. Congress.

Inouye won the District 1 seat back, which she also occupied from 1998 to 2008.

They are the only two candidates in that race, so whomever wins will be the one to appear on the General Election ballot Nov. 5 and ultimately serve the district for the next 4 years.


In the state Senate District 3 race, incumbent Sen. Dru Kannuha of Kailua-Kona is the only Democrat on the ballot and Kurt “Sulli” Sullivan of Kailua-Kona the only Republican, meaning both have already secured spots in the November general and will duke it out then to see who will go to Honolulu next January.

State Sen. Tim Richards of Waimea is no longer a freshman and will return to Honolulu next year as he is running uncontested in the primary, thus already winning another 4 years at the state Capitol before a vote has even been cast.

The same is true for state Rep. Mark Nakashima, who is also running uncontested for his Hawai‘i House of Representatives District 1 seat.

A new face will sit in the House District 2 seat as longtime state Rep. Richard Onishi will retire this year. Hoping to be the new representative next year are Democrats Tanya Yamanaka Aynessazian and current Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, both of Hilo, who will duke it out in the August primary.

The winner of that race will be the outright winner come November as no one else is running for the seat.


House District 3 incumbent Rep. Chris Todd of Hilo is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Kiana “Keawekane” Kanahele to see who will make it to the November General Election. Republican Kanoa Wilson and Libertarian Austin Martin are unopposed in their respective primaries for the District 3 race and will go up against the Democratic winner Nov. 5.

Greggor Ilagan of Kea‘au, the incumbent representative for state House District 4, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary as is Keikilani Ho of Kea‘au on the Republican side of the ticket. They’ll both be back in November.

Another Democratic challenge is in store for state House District 5 as Chantel Makuaole-Perrin of Hilo hopes to oust incumbent Rep. Jeanné Kapela of Captain Cook to make it to the General Election and on to Honolulu next year.

Republican Ashley Oyama of Kealakekua and Libertarian Frederick Fogel will take on the winner of that race in November as they are both uncontested in their respective primaries.

In House District 6, incumbent state Rep. Kirstin Kahaloa of Kealakekua is also being challenged. John Betlach of Kailua-Kona wants to be the one on the Democratic ticket in November to go up against Republican Sylvie Madison, the only candidate for that party, for a chance to go to Honolulu.


The races for House Districts 7 and 8 have unopposed Democratic candidates, Reps. Nicole Lowen of Kailua-Kona and David Tarnas of Waimea, respectively, winning their primaries as the only Democratic candidates and their Republican counterparts doing the same, all moving on to the General Election.

This year’s state elections also feature races for Hawai‘i Island, Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, and Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi resident trustees and an at-large resident trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees.

In federal races, incumbent Hawai‘i Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Honolulu will face off against two others in the Aug. 10 primaries to see who makes it to General Election Day. Ron Curtis of Kalāheo, Kaua‘i, and Clyde “Mac” Lewman of Honolulu are looking to best the lawmaker who has served in the Senate since 2013.

A field of seven Republican hopefuls are competing to be the one on the general election ballot to take on the other party primary winners for a shot at going to Washington as senator-elect. All of them are from O‘ahu, as well as the one We The People Party candidate who will cruise to the Nov. 5 election.

Two Big Island candidates will also give Hirono a run for her money in the primary and appear on the general election ballot in November as the only ones representing their parties in August. Emma Jane Avila Pohlman is in the race for the Green Party and John “Raghu” Giuffre of Hilo is running for Senate as a nonpartisan.

The race for the District II congressional seat in the other chamber at the U.S. Capitol will be the same in the primary and general election with only one candidate filing papers to run in three parties, including incumbent Democratic Hawai‘i U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda, and a nonpartisan candidate.

Rick Swing and Mack Lono, both of Kailua-Kona, took out nomination papers to run for Tokuda’s seat, but neither filed them by the June 4 deadline. Swing would have primaried Tokuda as a Democrat and Lono would have been on the ballot either as a Republican or under no labels.

Voters should receive their ballots for the upcoming Primary Election in the mail by July 23.

All ballots must be received by the Hawai‘i County Office of the County Clerk Elections Division no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. If you mail your ballot back, be sure to send it several days in advance so the Elections Division gets it on time.

Hawaiʻi County will provide voter service centers, in Hilo and Kailua-Kona, where voters can return ballots or even vote in-person from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. the day of the election.

The centers will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday beginning July 29, providing voter assistance, additional information and registration services. Same-day voter registration also will be available.

Ballot drop boxes, at 10 locations around the island, open July 19.

For other important dates on this year’s election calendar, visit the Elections Division website. For more election resources, click here.

You can even track your ballot with BallotTrax to know when it is mailed, returned and counted.

Here is a list of candidates — with names as they will appear on the ballot and in alphabetical order, along with a candidate’s community of residence and campaign websites/emails, when available — in this year’s state and federal primary races for Hawaiʻi County.

Hawai‘i State Legislature

(Senate seats have 4-year terms; House seats have 2-year terms)

Senate District 1


Senate District 3



Senate District 4


Republican hopeful Christine Danzilo Coletta took out nomination papers to run for the District 4 seat but did not return them by the June 4 deadline. As the only candidate in the race, Richards wins his seat back outright.

House of Representatives District 1


As the only candidate in the race, Nakashima wins his seat back outright.

House of Representatives District 2


Democrats Laura Acasio and Richard H.K. Onishi along with Republican Grace Larson all of Hilo took out papers to run for the District 2 seat but did not return them by the filing deadline.

Onishi is the incumbent, who has represented the district for more than 10 years. He will retire this year.

House of Representatives District 3




Democrat Tanya Yamanaka Aynessazian of Pāhoa took out papers to serve District 3 but didn not file them by the required deadline.

House of Representatives District 4



House of Representatives District 5




House of Representatives District 6



Republican Victoria “V” Thompson of Kailua-Kona took out nomination papers to seek the District 6 seat but did not file them in time to be on this year’s ballot.

House of Representatives District 7



Republican Brinelle Simmons of Kailua-Kona took out papers to run for the District 7 post but did not file them by the required deadline.

House of Representatives District 8



Democrat Christina Kawamoto-Butler also wanted to be part of the race for District 8, but she did not file her nomination papers in time to be on the primary ballot.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees, all nonpartisan, 4-year terms

(Note: All voters statewide are allowed to vote in each OHA contest)

Hawaiʻi Island Resident Trustee

Mililiani Trask, a lawyer and Native Hawaiian rights activist who is the current vice chairwoman of the OHA Board of Trustees and has served on the board since she was selected for the Big Island seat in February 2022, did take out papers for her post but will not seek re-election.

Sue Lee Loy of Hilo and Iolani Kamauu of Waimea also took out papers to seek the Big Island trustee seat but did not file them in time to be on the 2024 ballot.

Kauaʻi and Niʻihau Resident Trustee

Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi Resident Trustee

At-Large Trustee

Derek Kirkpatrick of Honolulu did take out papers to seek the open at-large post but did not file them by the June 4 deadline.

Christina Jung leaves after casting her vote in the 2022 General Election at the Aupuni Center in Hilo. (Big Island Now file photo)

U.S. Senate, 6-year term



We The People



Libertarian and Big Island resident Aaron Toman of Nāʻālehu; Green Party member Jennifer Booker of Waipahu, O‘ahu; Democrat Daniel Decker IV or Honolulu; nonpartisan hopeful Link El of Honolulu; and Republicans Ku Lono Cuadra of Honolulu; Lester Fung of Wahiawā, O‘ahu; Shaena Dela Cruz Hoohuli of Waiʻanae, O‘ahu; Walter Kupau Jr. of Pearl City, O‘ahu; Keith Drummond Lambert of Kīhei, Maui; and Edward “Eddie” Pirkowski of Honolulu each took out nomination papers to seek the U.S. Senate seat but did not file them by the June 4 deadline to be on this year’s ballot.

U.S. House of Representatives, District II, 2-year term





Democrat Rick Swing of Kailua-Kona; Mack Lono of Kailua-Kona, as a Republican and under no labels; Republican Brandon Kuehner of Honolulu; and We The People candidates Clifford Kauaula and BlessingStar De La Cruz, each of Kapolei, O‘ahu.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at nathan@bigislandnow.com
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