Honolulu Mayor: Caldwell Rolls Over Cayetano

John Hook for Civil Beat

Former Honolulu managing director Kirk Caldwell rolled to victory Tuesday night, defeating former Gov. Ben Cayetano to become Honolulu’s next mayor.

With all precincts reporting, Caldwell prevailed 53 percent to 45 percent.

"The people have spoken," Caldwell told the crowd gathered at Aloha Tower. "We did it together. Not fighting, not blaming, not talking about problems caused by someone else, but by talking about solutions to problems."

For months, Caldwell had been locked in a tight race with Cayetano to replace incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle, who lost in the Aug. 11 primary.

The candidates are on opposite sides of the city’s $5.26 billion rail project. Cayetano wanted to kill it and Caldwell wanted to salvage it.

With so much at stake, the race had garnered more attention than any other in the state. It had also seen the heavy-handed influence of labor unions and big-business political action committees that want the project to stay on track.

Cayetano admitted defeat late Tuesday night but blamed his loss on the special interest groups that spent millions of dollars on attack ads and other campaign tactics to prevent him from becoming mayor.

"The election will usher in a new era in Hawaii politics," Cayetano said. "Basically what it means is if you have money you have influence. You will be able to sway the way people vote."

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