This is our final rundown of potentially competitive state House and Senate campaigns before Tuesday’s election.
The overview remains the same, but we have added the latest campaign-finance figures and have made some other changes:
*We have moved Senate District 25 between Laura H. Thielen, the former director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and former Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings from `tossup’ to `leans Democratic’ because of a late push by the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter for Thielen.
*We have changed House District 20 between House Speaker Calvin Say and Green activist Keiko Bonk from `Democratic’ to `leans Democratic’ because of negative ads by the Sierra Club and door-to-door outreach from Unite Here! Local 5 against Say.
*We have added House District 27 between Rep. Corinne Ching and public-school teacher Takashi Ohno because Ohno has raised more money than Ching and could benefit from a Democratic tilt statewide in a presidential election year.
Overview: Majority Democrats have commanding control of the state House and Senate. With Hawaii-born President Barack Obama up for re-election, his popularity in the islands may help Democrats widen their majority even though some strategists believe the state Legislature is out-of-balance politically and overdue for a correction. Voter perceptions about Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s job performance could also influence how Democrats fare. Neither former Gov. Linda Lingle, who is campaigning for U.S. Senate, nor former congressman Charles Djou, who is running for Congress, show enough strength to offer much down-ballot hope for minority Republicans. The GOP will be fortunate if Republicans emerge with their existing numbers intact.
House Democrats are watching a handful of races to see if the outcome could influence House leadership next session. Redrawn political districts after the census could complicate the re-election plans for a few incumbents. Issues such as economic recovery, environmental protection, and improving public education will likely shape many campaigns.
Russell Ruderman (D)
(Last period: $3,120 Overall: $37,388 Loans: $17,713)
Daryl Smith (R)
(Last period: $8,714 Overall: $13,240 Loans: $1,904)
Outlook: Open. Leans Democratic. Ruderman, the owner of Island Naturals, might be the right blend for this eclectic and growing district where geothermal and planning regulations are major concerns. Smith is the GOP county chair.
Sen. Clayton Hee (D)
(Overall: $509,975 as of August)
Colleen Meyer (R)
(Latest: $19,852 Overall: $49,170 Loans: $59,716 mostly owed from previous campaign)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Hee, the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, has a massive war chest going into his re-election campaign. But the district has been redrawn to include more of the North Shore neighborhoods that have been trending Republican over the past few cycles. Meyer, who lost re-election to the House in a close race to Rep. Jessica Wooley in 2008, was the most conservative Republican in the chamber. A strong turnout among Mormons in Laie for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon and the GOP presidential candidate, could help Meyer if she can compete in other precincts. Hee has made significant radio and direct mail buys. His allies have also chipped in with mail, a sign the race is competitive.
*SD25 (Hawaii Kai-Waimanalo-Kailua)
Laura H. Thielen (D)
(Last report: $21,569 Overall: $59,539)
Fred Hemmings (R)
(Last report: $16,717 Overall: $44,293)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Hemmings, a surfing legend and former Senate minority leader who is one of the state’s most popular Republicans, should have an advantage. But Thielen, a director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Linda Lingle, is an articulate voice on environmental, land use and education issues. Her name recognition is high after she defied the Democratic Party of Hawaii and ran for office even though the party determined she did not meet eligibility rules because she had not been a member for at least six months. Higher-than-average voter turnout by anti-rail conservatives for former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who has vowed to stop the Honolulu rail project if elected mayor, might help Hemmings. A late push by the Sierra Club Hawaii chapter for Thielen may be persuasive for independents still on the fence.
*HD3 (South Hilo-Keaau-Honuapo)
Richard Onishi (D)
(Last report: $24,379 Overall: $61,977)
Marlene Hapai (R)
(Last report: $15,609 Overall: $56,058 Loans: $25,358, including loans from a previous campaign)
Outlook: Open. Leans Democratic. Onishi, a county computer programmer and former Hawaii Government Employees Association president, should have the better ground game because of his union ties. House dissidents who want to replace House Speaker Calvin Say might also help Onishi as a potential ally. Hapai, a former University of Hawaii regent, lost to Rep. Faye Hanohano in 2010 yet Republicans believe she has a chance in this reconfigured district.
Nicole Lowen (D)
(Last report: $16,145 Overall: $33,284 Loans: $6,150)
Roy Ebert (R)
(Last report: $1,200 Overall: $4,747)
Outlook: Open. Leans Democratic. Lowen, a legislative aide active with the Sierra Club, has drawn the support of labor, environmental and progressive interest groups. House dissidents also see her as a potential ally. Ebert, who has a property maintenance business, is touting his real-life business experience in a region that has been friendly to Republicans in the past.
*HD11 (South Maui)
Rep. George Fontaine (R)
(Last report: $12,230 Overall: $38,079)
Kaniela Ing (D)
(Last report: $16,152 Overall: $33,611 Loans: $1,895)
Outlook: Leans Republican. Fontaine, a retired police captain in his first re-election campaign, has found a niche on cybercrime issues in the House. The young Ing, a former UH student body president and legislative aide for Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang, is getting some attention in Democratic circles. Republicans, sensing trouble in a district where they should perform well but have struggled, have been aggressive about questioning Ing’s campaign finances. An Obama landslide could lift Ing.
*HD18 (Hahaione Valley-Aina Haina-Kahala)
Rep. Mark Hashem (D)
(Last report: $15,960 Overall: $46,733)
Jeremy Low (R)
(Last report: $6,997 Overall: $37,094 Loans: $19,891 — plus $3,405 from previous campaign)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Hashem, up for his first re-election campaign, caught a break when longtime GOP Rep. Barbara Marumoto chose not to run after they were drawn together in the same district. Low, a former analyst in the state Office of Language Access and a Marumoto aide who ran unsuccessfully for Honolulu City Council in 2010, lacks name recognition and has a difficult path. But the district is potentially competitive for the GOP, particularly if there is an anti-rail swell.
*HD20 (Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki)
House Speaker Calvin Say (D)
(Last report: $14,654 Overall: $206,796)
Julia Allen (R)
(Last report: $1,225 Overall: $2,314)
Keiko Bonk (G)
(Last report: $21,746 Overall: $39,444 Loans: $16,249)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Say, the longest serving House speaker in state history, is favored to win re-election. But House dissidents and labor, environmental and progressive groups unhappy with his 13-year reign as speaker have found a rallying symbol in Bonk, an environmental activist and former Hawaii County Councilwoman running as a Green. A similar coalition helped defeat House Majority Leader Pono Chong, a Say ally, in the primary, so Bonk’s challenge is worth watching. Negative ads by the Sierra Club and door-to-door outreach by Unite Here! Local 5 against Say could weaken the speaker.
*HD27 (Nuuanu-Liliha-Alewa Heights)
Rep. Corinne Ching (R)
(Last report: $10,930 Overall: $21,214 Loans: $20,495 from previous campaigns)
Takashi Ohno (D)
(Last report: $12,554 Overall: $40,086)
Outlook: Leans Republican. Ching has often found herself on the Democrats’ target list but has prevailed on the strength of her tireless advocacy for Liliha. Ohno, a public-school teacher, has raised more money than Ching and could benefit from an Obama wave.
*HD36 (Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres)
Rep. Marilyn Lee (D)
(Last report: $16,755 Overall: $70,537)
Beth Fukumoto (R)
(Last report: $15,998 Overall: $29,449)
Outlook: Leans Democratic. Lee, the vice chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, narrowly avoided a surprise defeat in 2010 to a young Republican. Fukumoto, a young Republican who leads House Minority research and briefly served as interim GOP chairwoman, could probe whether Lee is vulnerable.
*HD40 (Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point)
Bob McDermott (R)
(Last report: $13,372 Overall: $16,444 Loans: $8,300)
Chris Manabat (D)
(Last report: $6,766 Overall: $6,766)
Outlook: Open. Leans Republican. McDermott, a former House lawmaker, has lost campaigns for Congress and City Council but is among the GOP’s best hopes in a region where Republicans have potential. Manabat, the son of Rep. Rida Cabanilla, was not officially a Democrat when he signed papers to run for office and could face sanction from the party. An Obama surge, along with strong turnout among Filipinos for Cayetano in the mayor’s race, may help Manabat.
Jake Bradshaw (D)
(Last report: $19,275 Overall: $45,889 Loans: $600)
Lauren Cheape (R)
(Last report: $14,122 Overall: $28,179)
Outlook: Open. Tossup. This reconfigured district could provide a gauge of each party’s youth movement: Bradshaw served in the Navy and is active with young Democrats; Cheape grew up in Mililani and was crowned Miss Hawaii last year. Republicans consider Cheape among their best prospects. The Sierra Club supports Cheape.
Richard Fale (R)
(Last report: $13,765 Overall: $37,110)
Ululani Beirne (D)
(Last report: $4,865 Overall: $11,435)
Outlook: Leans Republican. Fale, an Army veteran and farmer, upset Rep. Gil Riviere in the primary. The intraparty skirmish, however, put Republican control of the seat into jeopardy. Fale, a conservative who favors development near Laie, will not appeal to the environmentalists and progressives who likely would have voted for Riviere in November. Riviere has been a leader in the North Shore conservation movement, and was a voice against environmental exemptions for state construction projects last session at the Legislature. The upset has opened the door for Beirne, a former House lawmaker. Fale, a Mormon, may have the advantage if there is a large Mormon turnout in Laie for Romney at the top of the ticket.