(HONOLULU) -- Hawaii’s primary was considered one of the fiercest fights of the cycle, even before the islands stared down the barrel of a tropical storm and hurricane.
But with Tropical Storm Iselle wreaking havoc and Hurricane Julio hot on its heels, one statewide candidate has called on Gov. Neil Abercrombie to postpone the Saturday primary.
“It seems very political, not caring for the danger to those who cannot get [to polls] safely,” said Warner “Kimo” Sutton, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, in an email.
Sutton first appealed to Abercrombie, who is on the ballot, for the delay in a television interview.
As of Thursday evening, no changes had been scheduled for the primary, according to the state Office of Elections.
Abercrombie faces a tough challenge from state senator David Ige in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa are vying for the seat once held by Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Hawaii Democrat who died in 2012.
The governor’s popularity took a hit in the state after appointing Schatz to replace Inouye over Hanabusa, the late senator’s hand-picked successor, setting the stage for a dramatic primary before the storms hit the state.
Abercrombie can direct election officials to change voting hours, polling places and the date of the election after declaring a state of emergency. The governor signed an emergency proclamation on Wednesday.
For an embattled governor, being on the ballot and in the governor’s mansion during a crisis is an impossible situation, said University of Hawaii political scientist Colin Moore.
“This is pretty lose-lose for the governor,” Moore said. “No matter what he does, people will accuse him of acting in his own self-interest.”
Candidates down the ballot have suspended operations and asked supporters to exercise caution, as reports of flooding and power outages follow Iselle’s path through the Big Island.
Campaigns have urged voters to take down yard signs (easily uprooted and potentially dangerous in 60 mph winds) and vote early throughout the week, in case the storms make it difficult for voters to reach polls.
In Honolulu County, home to 90 percent of the state, early voting and absentee ballot returns have already surpassed numbers from the 2012 election, according to the Honolulu County Clerk.
“The election is important, and determines what kind of future our state has,” said Hanabusa campaign spokesman Peter Boylan. “That said, it is absolutely secondary to safety.”
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