HONOLULU (KHON2) – The race gets more competitive as gubernatorial candidates jockey for a position one month before the deadline to put in their names for the office of the governor.

Rep. Kai Kahele announced he is running for governor in a Facebook livestream on Saturday, May 7.

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Hawaii Pacific University Professor of Communication John Hart said Kahele is entering a tougher race compared to his 2020 congressional run. 

Hart said, “this is going to be a very different race than congressional district two when he was virtually unopposed. He’s going to be running against a former first lady, and a very popular lieutenant governor.”

Former First Lady Vicky Cayetano, the wife of former Governor Benjamin Cayetano, has also announced her run for governor.

Hart said Lt. Gov Josh Green has had a commanding lead in campaign funding and said residents are very familiar with him, as part of the state’s response to COVID. 

Hart said, “Green is in the right place at the right time. A doctor during the pandemic, we all remember his whiteboard, giving us the information.”

Mixed martial artist B.J. Penn filed his papers as a republican candidate.

Also running as a republican is City Council member Heidi Haunani Tsuneyoshi.

As for the status of Kahele’s current district two congressional seat, KHON2 News reached out to the congressman’s office and campaign to find out if Kahele will remain in congress through the election or resign. Those questions remain unanswered by Kahele. 

“He can try to hold on to it and run and then answer questions about that, Hart said. “Or he could resign, in which case Gov. Ige has the responsibility of appointing someone till the end of the term. So, C-D two has representation.”

Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced on Wednesday, May 4, that he will not be running for Hawaii governor.

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The Office of Elections website said candidate filing for the 2022 Elections ends June 7. Voters will receive their ballots in the mail by July 26 for the Aug. 13 primary election.