Former lieutenant governor Shan Tsutsui has announced his support for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the race for governor.
The congresswoman is challenging incumbent Gov. David Ige for the seat.
Tsutsui was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and served with Ige until January, when Tsutsui announced he was resigning from the post.
That announcement came just two weeks after the missile-alert mistake.
At the time, Tsutsui said he wanted to spend more time on Maui with his family.
Tsutsui’s support for Hanabusa came on Tuesday, the same day she opened her Maui campaign headquarters in Kahului.
Political experts say this shows that the governor and Tsutsui never really saw eye-to-eye.
Tsutsui says it’s nothing personal. He’s worked with both candidates, and he just sees Hanabusa as the type of leader Hawaii needs.
“This really isn’t about me. This endorsement is about Colleen Hanabusa, and I believe the leadership and abilities that she brings forward for the state of Hawaii. I think we have many pressing issues that need immediate attention, including the homelessness and so many others. I think Colleen is the right person for the job,” Tsutsui said.
Tsutsui was a state senator when Hanabusa was Senate president. He points out that he’s worked with both candidates.
“I consider David a friend. He was a former colleague of mine as well, but people need to make a decision based on the leader of the state as it moves forward. It’s Colleen Hanabusa,” Tsutsui said.
“I don’t think anyone was surprised that there was a disconnect between the lieutenant governor and the governor. He was not in the inner circle,” said John Hart, Hawaii Pacific University professor.
A statement from Ige’s campaign communications director said, “We have the endorsements of former Governor John Waihee, business leaders Eddie Flores and Stanford Carr, former legislator Matt Matsunaga, attorney and community leader, Bert Kobayashi, Jr., technology startup entrepreneur Henk Rodgers, Mayor Caldwell, and more. Governor appreciates the support of these community leaders and others, who have a proven record right here in our community. Their endorsements are based on the fundamental idea of getting things done for the people, not just for a few powerful individuals.”
The statement went on to say, “With the support of such community leaders, Governor Ige places his record of accomplishments before the public to compare with his opponent. Endorsements come and go; accomplishments last a lifetime.”
Hanabusa also released a statement saying, “Shan earned the respect of our community and his colleagues in the Legislature, and was selected by his peers to be the first senator from Maui to serve as Senate President – a position we both had the privilege to hold. I have an immense appreciation for his decade and a half of public service and am deeply humbled and honored to accept his endorsement.
“Residents on every island are telling me they are disappointed in the lack of leadership and failure to focus on the issues of greatest importance to Hawaii, including the growing problem of homelessness, the condition of state highways and roads, and the future of agriculture, as well as the condition of our medical facilities. I will work closely with county leadership to put plans in place that turn consensus into action.”