Deadlocked Hawaii race might force candidates to seek votes amid damage, devastation
August 10th, 2014
05:09 PM ET
9 years ago

Deadlocked Hawaii race might force candidates to seek votes amid damage, devastation

(CNN) – It will be a very delicate task: How to seek votes from voters coping with damaged homes, downed trees, power outages and water shortages.

Yet that task awaits the two candidates in Hawaii's Democratic Senate primary as their race lies deadlocked and the majority of the votes they'll need to win lie in an area hit hard by a weekend storm.

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On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa are left to consider what to do next after their contest remained too close to call after Saturday's primary. With 99% of the vote in, Schatz leads Hanabusa a margin of less than 1%.

Victory will likely come from one damaged district. Storm damage prompted Hawaii election officials to close two polling places - in the Puna district on Hawaii's Big Island - from Saturday voting. The affected stations were the Hawaiian Paradise Community Center and the Keonepoko Elementary School.

Some 8,000 voters were affected. Though some of them voted early, others did not. The exact numbers are unclear. Yet Hawaii election officials have said ballots would be sent to those who did not vote early and could not vote Saturday. Officials say those voters will have an unspecified number of days to return their votes.

One central question hovers over the race: With such a razor-thin margin between them, upping the need for every vote, will both candidates go to the affected areas to campaign?

Sen. Schatz is visiting the Big Island on Monday, according to his communications director Meaghan Smith.

"The people of Puna are still recovering and I'm going to do my level best to help in any way possible," Schatz said in a statement. "I'm working with civil defense to bring federal resources to the Big Island for the recovery immediately. There are downed trees, power outages, and urgent water shortages and we've all got to kokua as a community to make sure everybody gets back on their feet."

As for his opponent's plans to visit the Big Island, Hanabusa told CNN affiliate KITV: "We'll find out how it's going to work. But I'm sure that we are going to be there."

"You are relying on…the Big Island, no matter what the other counts can be, because of the fact that, let's face it, they have enough votes to have affect the outcome," Hanabusa said. "It's not over. And it's not going to be over."

During a late-night speech to supporters over the weekend, Schatz joked about his nervous energy "in case this election comes down to 11 votes or something like that."

Noting the power outages, downed trees, urgent water shortages and overall need for support, Schatz said, "This is a humanitarian situation right now."

"So our hearts and our thoughts are with the people of the Big Island … the people who are still in recovery may not be even able to watch returns or think about an election because they're thinking about how they're going to survive."

When asked about the emphasis on direct voter outreach on the island – urged by Schatz's supporters - Smith told CNN on Sunday, "His supporters were of course saying, you know, when it comes down to a small area, that yeah, it comes down to handshakes, it comes down to personal contact, it comes down to conversations with your neighbors and that's what our campaign has been about from day one."

The winner of the Democratic primary will go on to face Republican businessman Cam Cavasso in the general election.

Filed under: Hawaii • Senate Primaries
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    This is what we call working together for a common goal ?


    August 10, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Chris..E.Al

    Its got to be the hot air from the dems thats causing this so called climate change ? Lets go regulate them in nov and fix the trixters .

    August 10, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. aaron

    Don't know about these 2 choices. He's looks too goofy to chew gum and walk at the same time. She looks meaner than a rattlesnake.

    August 10, 2014 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. rick

    Again.. Totaly changed the real story from damage of 2 storms. To a bunch of guys worried about VOTES. Nothing about any actual damage or injuries. I guess the reporters were too busy flapping on some politicians coat tails to say anything the real important stuff!! A earthquake could strand thousands. But every time some obscure politician sneezes its front page news!

    August 11, 2014 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  5. captains courageous

    Nice, I know you have no power, or water, but could you stop what your doing, and vote for me, tough indeed.

    August 11, 2014 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  6. captains courageous

    They both look a little greasy for me.

    August 11, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    captains courageous says:
    August 11, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am
    They both look a little greasy for me.

    What exactly does that mean? I'm just curious. When I think greasy I think dirty clothes and hair, blade of grass between their teeth sporting a Confederate flag cap, driving a 30 year old beat up pick up. That's the image that comes to my mind when I think greasy. Just asking....

    August 11, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. captains courageous

    Here's an idea, stop campaigning,,and do something to help these people, in other words, stop telling us how much you care, and start showing us. That, should be a no brainer, even mittens tried to look sympathetic, key word, look. As pathetic as Romney's relief efforts were, they did donate stuff, disgusting that he made a political pitch out if it, giving those two brothers items to donate, then putting them in line to donate them, and recorded mitt shaking hands as they gave him back his items, what a tool.

    August 11, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. captains courageous

    It was a joke, either of them would likely be better than a Republican, but I too wondered what he meant, all politicians are greasy by nature, like lie to your face while plotting against you. That kind. I've got to wonder what's going to happen this Nov.,things aren't following any pattern we've seen, will the people wake up, and vote out the obstruction in out government? I doubt it, but its a thought, seeming more likely than ever before.

    August 11, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  10. captains courageous

    She looks meaner than a rattle snake, she looks happy to me, he looks good too, want to see a good picture? Look no further than Michele Bachmans magazine cover, yikes!

    August 11, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, hey. Let's NOT try and turn a natural disaster into political fodder, eh?

    August 11, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The winner of the Democratic primary will go on to face Republican businessman Cam Cavasso in the general election.
    I guess that's when his citenship/residency requirement will come into question...
    I wish the people of the state of Hawaii a speedy recovery from the impact of htese storms.
    Good morning Vietnam!

    August 11, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    That should've been "citizenship". Pardon.

    August 11, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |