Hawaii Politics and Government

Hawaii Politics and Government

The state government of Hawaii is just like the Federal government along with certain adaptation taken up from the Hawaiian kingdom era. There are three branches of the government of Hawaii which are the executive, the legislative and the judicial.

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of the state is led by the Governor, who ensures that all the laws are properly executed in the state and is assisted by the Lieutenant Governor who is the assistant chief executive of the state and the different agencies and departments in Hawaii.

The Governor

The Governor is the only public official of the state of Hawaii elected in the state and he is the one who appoints the other officials like the administrators and the judges. He is in residence at the Washington Palace grounds and this chief executive is in charge of almost all state agencies and he lays down the goals for the state and the way to achieve it. The Governor with the help and assistance from the Lt. Governor oversees the twenty departments of the executive and the major agencies. 

The Lieutenant Governor

The Lt. Governor of the state is also the Secretary of the state of Hawaii at the same time. He, like the governor administers his duties from Honolulu, the Hawaii state capital. As he is concurrently the secretary of the state, in the absence of the State Governor or upon the disabling of the duty of the governor, the Lt. Governor becomes the acting Governor.

The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch of the state of Hawaii is a bicameral body which has two houses, the Senate and the House of representatives. The Legislative branch governs from the Hawaii state capitol. There are a total of 76 members in the legislative body of Hawaii who are the representatives of single member district along the state. The house of Hawaii Senate which is the upper house has twenty five members who are led by the president of the Senate and the House of Representatives which is the lower house has fifty one representatives who are led by the Speaker of the house.

The Judicial Branch

The Hawaii Judiciary Branch is led by the Hawaii Supreme Court which is the State Court. This branch functions under a single administrative head, the Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice. The other courts are organized below the Hawaii Supreme Court, which is the court which makes binding decision for the appeals forwarded from the lower courts and responsible for carrying out the Judiciary.

The court coming just below the Supreme Court is the Intermediate Court of Appeals which reviews appeals coming from the state trial court or the agency decision. The other courts coming under the Judicial branch are Land Court, Land appeal court, Tax Appeal court, Circuit courts, family courts, district courts and the office of the Administrative Director of the Courts.

The Municipal Government

Hawaii has a unique organization of its municipal government with no incorporated city except the capital city of Honolulu. Every other municipal government is executed at the county level with the Mayor of Hawaii, Mayor of Honolulu, Mayor of Kauai, and the Mayor of Maui as the executives. The mayors of the Hawaii state are elected by the people in nonpartisan race though the officers for the federal government and the state government are indeed elected from the democratic or the Republican Party.

The Federal Government

The United States Congress has a representation from the state of Hawaii by a delegation of four members. They include the Senior United States Senator and the Junior United States Senator who are the representatives of the Hawaii's first and second congressional district. The President of the United States has appointed a number of Hawaii residents to administer and see to the working of different departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The Prince Kuhio Federal Building nearby the Honolulu Harbor and the Aloha Tower at the state Capitol is the place from which all the federal officers of the state administer their duties locally. The office building also houses other agencies of the Federal Government like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secretary Service, and the Internal Revenue Service. It also houses the offices of the United State Attorney for the District of Hawaii and serves as the site for the federal courts.

The National Politics

The democrats are supported by the state of Hawaii in the majority of election; ten times out of the total twelve elections in which the state has participated. The exceptions were only in the years 1972 and 1984, when the state supported the Republican Party.

  The greatest achievement of the state in the national politics is the election of Honolulu native, Barack Obama as the President of the United States on the 4th of November 2008, four years after he became the senator from Illinois. He was the very first presidential nominee from the state of Hawaii and the third person from the state to seek the nomination of a major political party.

Presidential Elections Results

Year Republican Democratic
2008 26.58% 120,446 71.85% 325,588
2004 45.26% 194,191 54.01% 231,708
2000 37.46% 137,845 55.79% 205,286
1996 31.64% 113,943 56.93% 205,012
1992 36.70% 136,822 48.09% 179,310
1988 44.75%' 158,625 54.27% 192,364
1984 55.10% 185,050 43.82% 147,154
1980 42.90% 130,112 44.80% 135,879
1976 48.06% 140,003 50.59% 147,375
1972 62.48% 168,865 37.52% 101,409
1968 38.70% 91,425 59.83% 141,324
1964 21.24%' 44,022 78.76% 163,249
1960 49.97% 92,295 50.03% 92,410

List of Hawaii Governors

Governors of Hawaii Territory

# Governor Took office Left office Appointed by
1 Sanford B. Dole June 14, 1900 November 23, 1903 William McKinley
2 George R. Carter November 23, 1903 August 15, 1907 Theodore Roosevelt
3 Walter F. Frear August 15, 1907 November 30, 1913 Theodore Roosevelt
4 Lucius E. Pinkham November 30, 1913 June 22, 1918 Woodrow Wilson
5 Charles J. McCarthy June 22, 1918 July 5, 1921 Woodrow Wilson
6 Wallace R. Farrington July 5, 1921 July 6, 1929 Warren G. Harding
7 Lawrence M. Judd July 6, 1929 March 2, 1934 Herbert Hoover
8 Joseph Poindexter March 2, 1934 August 24, 1942 Franklin D. Roosevelt
9 Ingram Stainback August 24, 1942 May 8, 1951 Franklin D. Roosevelt
10 Oren E. Long May 8, 1951 February 28, 1953 Harry S. Truman
11 Samuel Wilder King February 28, 1953 July 26, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
12 William F. Quinn August 29, 1957 August 21, 1959 Dwight D. Eisenhower

Governors of the State of Hawaii

# Governor Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor Terms
1 William F. Quinn August 21, 1959 December 3, 1962 Republican James Kealoha 1
2 John A. Burns December 3, 1962 December 2, 1974 Democratic William S. Richardson 3
Thomas Gill
George Ariyoshi
3 George Ariyoshi December 2, 1974 December 1, 1986 Democratic Nelson Doi 3
Jean King
John D. Waihee III
4 John D. Waihee III December 1, 1986 December 5, 1994 Democratic Ben Cayetano 2
5 Ben Cayetano December 5, 1994 December 2, 2002 Democratic Mazie Hirono 2
6 Linda Lingle December 2, 2002 Incumbent Republican James "Duke" R. Aiona Jr. 2

Other High Offices Held

Name Gubernatorial term Other offices held
Sanford B. Dole 1900–1903 President of Hawaii
Lawrence M. Judd 1929–1934 Governor of American Samoa
Oren E. Long 1951–1953 U.S. Senator
Samuel Wilder King 1953–1957 Territorial Delegate
John A. Burns 1962–1974 Territorial Delegate

Living Former Governors

Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
George Ariyoshi 1974–1986 March 12, 1926 (1926-03-12) (age 84)
John D. Waihee III 1986–1994 May 19, 1946 (1946-05-19) (age 64)
Ben Cayetano 1994–2002 November 14, 1939 (1939-11-14) (age 70)

List of United States Senators from Hawaii

Class I

# Senator Took Office Left Office Party Residence Background Congress Term Electoral History
1 Hiram Fong August 21, 1959 January 3, 1977 Republican Kahaluu Speaker of the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives 86 1 Elected
89 2 Re-elected in 1964
92 3 Re-elected in 1970
2 Spark Matsunaga January 3, 1977 April 15, 1990 Democratic Kukuiula U.S. Representative (HI-2) 95 4 Elected in 1976
98 5 Re-elected in 1982


6 Re-elected in 1988
  Vacant April 15, 1990 May 16, 1990     Vacant
3 Daniel Akaka May 16, 1990 Incumbent Democratic Honolulu U.S. Representative (HI-2) Appointed
Elected in 1990 special election
104 7 Re-elected in 1994
107 8 Re-elected in 2000
110 9 Re-elected in 2006

Class III

# Senator Took Office Left Office Party Residence Background Congress Term Electoral History
1 Oren E. Long August 21, 1959 January 3, 1963 Democratic Honolulu Territorial Governor of Hawaii 86 1 Elected in 1959
2 Daniel Inouye January 3, 1963 Incumbent Democratic Honolulu U.S. Representative At-large 88 2 Elected in 1962
91 3 Re-elected in 1968
94 4 Re-elected in 1974
97 5 Re-elected in 1980
100 6 Re-elected in 1986
103 7 Re-elected in 1992
106 8 Re-elected in 1998
109 9 Re-elected in 2004