Gov. David Ige and State Sen. Josh Green are grateful to the Hawaii State Teachers Association for boosting their campaigns and helping them win the Democratic races for governor and lieutenant governor in the Aug. 11 primary election.
Minutes after he claimed victory on Saturday night, Ige said, "I really want to thank the teachers. We were sign waving this afternoon and I just remember teachers were there at the very beginning, four years ago. Without their support, it would not have happened."
"I've said it over and over again. Teachers touch the future each and every day. And our goals of the state are so aligned with the teachers. They sacrifice so much for our students and our children. That's what it's all about," Ige added. "I know that the best improvement in our classroom will occur in the classroom."
Polls put Ige 20 points behind his challenger U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in March. But in less than four months, he surged ahead and ended up beating Hanabusa by 7 percentage points in Saturday's primary election.
Green, a physician and longtime Hawaii Island state senator who beat four other well-known candidates running for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination, said, "This campaign ended up being a lot closer than we thought. And HSTA came on with a powerful endorsement for us. We love the teachers and the community."
"Many of the teachers are in our family. That is a true story," Green added. "We have teachers that are principals, we have special ed teachers in our immediate family. To be, then, endorsed by HSTA, I think it put us over the top. And there are a lot of teachers that straight-up voted us, with that margin, so I'll never forget it."
Green beat his next closest rival in the LG's Democratic primary race, Kaneohe state Sen. Jill Tokuda, by nearly 3 percentage points.
Green said education is absolutely a top priority for him.
"I spent my entire education in public schools, K through 12, and I had a great education that meant I had opportunities. I want every child to have opportunities like my daughter and my son. That means the world to me," Green said.
"I'd like to see big changes so we can retain our teachers and pay them better. And I'm starting there. I still have a lot to learn about the challenges our teachers face. But I'll tell you I've learned a lot on the campaign trail. Thank you so much," Green said, addressing HSTA President Corey Rosenlee, HSTA Vice President Osa Tui, Jr. and HSTA Secretary-Treasurer Logan Okita Saturday night at Ige headquarters.
Ige and Green benefitted from strong HSTA grassroots efforts on all islands. Signwavers from HSTA sometimes equaled or surpassed the number of other campaign volunteers who showed up at some events. Teacher volunteers and HSTA staff also helped the campaigns in canvassing and phone bank efforts. The HSTA posted Facebook live broadcasts of the news conferences announcing their support for both candidates, serving as archival video of what's seen by many as key endorsements in any major political race in Hawaii.
The two candidates will be on the ballot in this November's general election, when the HSTA will once again urge its members and all other voters in the state to back them.
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