Cayetano holds double digit lead
By Emmanuel Samonte Tipon
HONOLULU– Hawaii’s Ben Cayetano, the first Filipino American elected governor
and now Honolulu mayoral candidate,has maintained his double digit lead over his rivals despite incessant personal attacks on television, radio, and in the newspapers by the rich and influential backers of rail transit1 and a number of Filipino-Americans (yes, Filipino Americans).According to the latest poll conducted by the Honolulu Star Advertiser (which is biased against Cayetano, sinceit has endorsed one of Cayetano’s Caucasian opponents),Cayetano is favored by 44 percent of those polled, incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle has 27 percent, and former Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell has 25 percent. Cayetano needs 50 percent plus 1 vote to win outright in the August 11 primary. Otherwise the top two vote getters slug it out in a runoff election in November.
Cayetano’s support comes from all ethnic and political groups - Caucasian, Japanese, Chinese (Cayetano’s wife Vicki is Chinese born in the Philippines), native Hawaiian. He is also getting strong support from older citizens and from union members even though most of the union leaders are for his opponents, according to the poll.
Hawaii-Filipino support for Cayetano is a big disappointment from the point of view of this writer. When this writer said to Cayetano that he thought he would be getting at least 95 percent, he laughed. Cayetano said
that in the past he was getting only about 80 percent. The Star Advertiser says Filipino support for Cayetano is at 67 percent. The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle’s poll conducted among Filipinos shows that only 40 percent are for Cayetano, 8.7 percent for Carlisle, and 3.1 percent for Caldwell. The undecideds are 48 percent. If Cayetano can get 90 percent of the Filipinos,
he will win outright in August. Other ethnic groups think Filipino support for Cayetano is solid – at least that was before the polls. The main reasons for the lack of solidarity among Cayetano’s co-Filipinos are crab mentality and failure to get favors in the past. Many are also supporting the rail in the misguided belief that they will be able to get jobs. “What fools these mortals be,” as Shakespeare said. The contractors will get the Chinese who built the transcontinental railway to do it. Who is the Filipino in Hawaii who has any experience in building a railroad? In the mainland, Filipinos have their own quarrels – pro- and anti-Marcos,
among others. But when a Filipino is fighting a non-Filipino, they support their “kababayan.” The main issue in the Honolulu elections is whether or not the city should continue with its planned $5.2 billion rail system, construction of which has already begun in haste even though there are not enough funds to pay for it. Cayetano is firmly against rail and he has vowed to stop it if elected because it will not solve the traffic problem and Honolulu cannot afford it.
His solution is a Bus Rapid Transit system which is less expensive and can reach your doorstep. His Caucasian opponents are pro-rail. Hence, tons of money is believed to have been poured by the pro-rail businessmen, banks, contractors, and unions on Cayetano’s opponents, but they have not been able to dent Cayetano’s lead.
Rail advocates hope the Obama administration will give some $1.2 billion. However, if Obama loses, there goes the funding. Even if Obama wins, the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans will not provide the funds. The Republican candidate for the House in Hawaii’s first district, Charles D’jou is firmly against the rail. Most Hawaii Republicans are against the rail and are supporting Cayetano, a Democrat. The Star Advertiser which is pro-rail published a poll showing that the majority in Honoluluare against the rail.
The public perception is that Cayetano is running based on principles, while his opponents are running on behalf of their principals