MAUIWatch has learned that Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa has registered as a Democrat. The mayor declined a request for an interview, but a local party official who asked not to be identified confirmed that Arakawa is now a Democrat.
The long time local political figure began his career in elected office as a Republican member of the County Council in an earlier era when candidates declared a party affiliation. In 1994, Arakawa made his first run for public office and was elected to the Maui County Council. He was re-elected in 1996 and 2000.
Arakawa then ran for the non-partisan post of Mayor. According to his official biography posted on the county website, “Mayor Alan M. Arakawa served as Maui County Mayor from 2002 to 2006 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014, making him the first Maui Mayor to serve consecutive terms since Linda Lingle won re-election in 1994.”
Arakawa is now completing his third (and final) four-year term as Maui mayor, with two years remaining. Due to term limits, he can not run for that post again.
It is widely rumored that Arakawa, now a lame duck on Maui, is considering a bid for governor in the upcoming 2018 primary. His new Democratic affiliation will clear the way for a primary contest between incumbent Governor David Ige and potential candidate Arakawa–as well as any other Democratic candidates who may decide to run in that race.
Hawaii is a state dominated by the Democratic party. Most of the political seats with a party affiliation requirement are held by Democrats, and the Democratic primary for governor which will be held in August 2018, is considered by most political observers as the race to watch.