It’s Election Day in Hawaii, where focus is on the Democratic gubernatorial primary


From left, US Rep. Kai Kahele, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Vicky Cayetano

(CNN)As Hawaii voters finish casting their ballots Saturday, the marquee race is the state’s Democratic primary for governor.

There’s a crowded field of Democrats vying to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. David Ige including Democratic Rep. Kai Kahele, who joined the race after announcing earlier this year he would leave Congress at the end of the term, vacating one of the Aloha State’s two congressional seats.

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green and former Hawaii first lady Vicky Cayetano are also competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nod in a state that’s been helmed by party leadership for over a decade.

    In a debate held in July, Green, a former emergency room doctor who served in the Hawaii state House and Senate, called out Kahele for serving one term in Congress and then retiring to return to Hawaii and run for governor, Hawaii News Now reported at the time.

      Kahele, who was elected in 2020 to replace Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, came under fire earlier this year for his part-time work as a commercial pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, which raised questions of whether he was breaking any ethics rules for continuing his work with the airline.

        Questions about Kahele’s work with Hawaiian Airlines arose after the Honolulu Civil Beat published an in-depth story looking into his attendance at the US Capitol this year and his personal income since he entered office. The report found that Kahele had voted by proxy at least 120 times from the start of the year through early April, meaning another lawmaker has cast his votes for him.

        Kahele’s office at the time defended his part-time work with Hawaiian Airlines and said his decision to vote by proxy was motivated by concerns over new coronavirus variants, given that the congressman lives in a multigenerational family home. His office said he remained committed to his work in Washington, DC.

          Kahele’s retirement from the House leaves the seat in the state’s 2nd Congressional District open. The top-funded candidate is former Democratic state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who’s been endorsed by the Progressive Caucus PAC and EMILY’s List. State Rep. Patrick Branco, a former US diplomat, is also running for the Democratic nomination. Republican Joe Webster, who calls himself “a Republican like you’ve never met before” and are vying for the GOP nomination in the solid Democratic district.

            Democratic Rep. Ed Case, who represents Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, and Sen. Brian Schatz, who has held his seat since 2012, are running for reelection.

            Polls in Hawaii close at 7 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern time). All registered Hawaii voters are sent a mail ballot. Mail ballots are due by the close of polls on August 13.

            CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Daniella Diaz, Sonnet Swire, Annie Grayer and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.