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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 7, 2002

Arakawa's upset win in Maui mayoral race crowned GOP sweep

 •  Naming top-level posts among Lingle's first steps

With Lingle win, school board debate to resurface

 •  Analysis: Sturdy campaign worked for Lingle
 •  Women set record, with six as governors
 •  Legislature's Democrats willing to hear Lingle out
 •  Energized Lingle reaps first rewards of victory
 •  Attack ads, GOP effort were factors in turnout, experts say
 •  Hirono thanks staff, ponders next move
 •  Mink victory spawns growing field of hopefuls
 •  Inouye, Akaka must give up posts
 •  City Council to get fresh start
 •  For election results, see our Voter's Guide

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Staff Writer

WAILUKU, Maui — Linda Lingle's coattails may have done wonders for mayoral candidates on Maui and Kaua'i with Republican ties.

Bryan Baptiste

Ron Kouchi

Advertiser library photos

While Bryan Baptiste won a tough nonpartisan race over Democrat and fellow council member Ron Kouchi on Kaua'i, Alan Arakawa defied history and overcame a huge campaign contribution deficit to unseat Democratic incumbent James "Kimo" Apana in a nonpartisan contest on Maui.

For the next couple of years, Hawai'i's governor and all three Neighbor Island mayors — Arakawa, Baptiste and the Big Island's Harry Kim, who was not up for election this year — will be Republican, leaving Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris as the lone Democrat.

"Nobody gave us a chance in the beginning," said Arakawa, who lost to Apana four years ago.

Apana appeared to have all the advantages this time, including more than $700,000 in his campaign treasury and the knowledge that no mayor had ever lost a re-election bid in Maui County. But it wasn't enough.

Arakawa, a County Council member from Kahului, credited the hustle of his campaign team for pulling off the upset.

"We worked hard. We had a plan and I guess we did it right," he said. "The biggest message is that hard work and perseverance can win out."

On Kaua'i, both candidates said superior election-day organization was a key to the victory. Kouchi said a similar issue was probably at play on Maui.

"I think the lesson learned through all of this for the Democrats was that (Republicans) were more successful at getting out the vote," Kouchi said.

Alan Arakawa

James "Kimo" Apana

Advertiser library photos

Baptiste credited a strong GOP effort to staff the precincts with poll watchers to keep track of which voters hadn't shown up yet and pass the word on to party volunteers.

"I think it was the get-out-the-vote effort, like offering to drive people to the polls — that little extra effort," Baptiste said.

Some Maui political observers believe Apana let the race slip away in the final month of the campaign.

Maui Weekly Editor Dave DeLeon, who worked as Lingle's executive assistant when she was Maui mayor, said Apana was hurt by headlines about campaign contributions from special interests.

The mayor didn't help himself, DeLeon said, when he denied knowing where the contributions came from and then returned $14,000 as requested by the Campaign Spending Commission.

DeLeon also said Apana was hurt by what he described as a transparent attempt to court environmentalists and anti-development voters.

In a televised debate, Apana for the first time publicly opposed development in Makena and rejected a longstanding plan to develop East Maui wells to support expansion in Central Maui.

"The world knew he needed votes and he was going to get them. He had a knack for saying anything to any group," DeLeon said.

Former Maui Community College Professor Dick Mayer said Arakawa benefitted from an endorsement by environmentalist Robert Parsons, who finished third in the mayoral primary with about 3,800 votes.

Arakawa finished 2,200 votes behind Apana in the primary, so his victory in Tuesday's election is likely due in part to picking up some of Parsons' support.

"I think it had a major impact," Mayer said. "A lot of people were on the fence and didn't know which way to go."

Apana didn't have any answers following his loss.

"I still think we did a great job," he said on election night. "We made government more efficient. We expanded the economy. The voters just decided to give someone else a chance."

While Lingle's influence might have helped the Maui and Kaua'i mayoral candidates, it's questionable how much impact her campaign had on council races. The councils are nonpartisan, but the majority of the winners ran in the past as Democrats.

Both Maui and Kaua'i have had Republican mayors in the past.

Lingle and the late Hannibal Tavares on Maui were two-term GOP mayors, and current Kaua'i Mayor Maryanne Kusaka is a Republican.