HONOLULU – George Takei, the actor in the original Star Trek movies who played the beloved character, Hikaru Sulu, and has made his mark on the Hollywood scene with the saying “Oh my!” has joined a growing list of celebrities, politicians and activists endorsing Hawaii’s Democratic candidates in advance of Hawaii’s Aug. 9 Primary Election.
On Wednesday, Takei endorsed state Rep. Mark Takai, a Democrat running for Congress, telling voters they “have a chance to stand up for equality for everyone, by voting for a strong representative of progressive values.”
“As a State Representative, Mark Takai has fought not only for equality, but also for seniors, veterans, and working families. His military service and unwavering support for equality for all Americans make him an outstanding candidate. We need more progressive champions like Mark Takai in the U.S. House of Representatives. I urge you to vote for my friend Mark Takai,” Takei said.
“I was put in contact with George Takei through a mutual friend. We have had several opportunities to discuss my history of service to Hawaii, both in the Legislature and as a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard. I am extremely honored that he chose to endorse me for Hawaii’s first congressional district,” Takai told Hawaii Reporter.
Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly on the CBS television series Hawaii Five-0 and played Jin-Soo Kwon on the ABC series LOST, is endorsing Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his 2014 campaign for reelection.
“Governor Abercrombie has been a long-time supporter of the arts,” said Kim. “He understands how important tourism is to our local economy and the role that shows like Hawaii Five-0 play in showcasing our beautiful islands to the world. The Governor’s support of Hawaii Five-0 has been integral to the show’s production, and has helped enable it to be seen in more than 200 countries around the world. I am grateful for his advocacy of our local film and television industry.”
The nation’s top elected officials also are inserting themselves into Hawaii politics.
President Barack Obama endorsed Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his re-election campaign over primary opponent, state Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige, for the state’s chief executive spot.
In a 1-minute radio commercial now airing on local station, Obama said: “Gov. Neil Abercrombie is like Ohana (family) to me. He knew my parents before I was a twinkle in their eye. He was one of the first people anywhere to step up and support me for president. You could say Gov. Abercrombie has had my back since before I was born. That’s what Neil is all about. He looks out for us in Hawaii. He gets our back.”
Obama in March also endorsed Hawaii’s U.S. Senator, Brian Schatz, who is in a contentious Senate race against Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, D-HI.
“Senator Schatz is protecting Hawaii’s values and fighting every day on behalf of middle-class families. There is no question that Senator Schatz is the right choice to continue delivering for Hawaii,” Obama said.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), a former Hawaii resident who was a classmate of Takai and the University of Hawaii, and six other congress members, backed Takai.
- Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano is endorsing Ige, while former Gov. John Waihee supports Abercrombie.
Well-known feminist icon and author Gloria Steinem is backing U.S. House candidate Kathryn Xian, who is best known for efforts to help child trafficking victims and labor trafficking victims in the islands through her group, the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery.
Neal Milner, a former University of Hawaii political science professor who is now a political consultant for a number of local news outlets, said celebrity endorsements, for the most part, make very little difference. At this point in the race, with the primary election set for Aug. 9, they are also unlikely to have any major effect, he said.
However, an endorsement from President Barack Obama is much more helpful in Hawaii, where the president is still extremely popular, Milner said.
Obama’s endorsement for Schatz over Hanabusa in the U.S. Senate race also helps reinforce Schatz’ branding of being supported by the Democratic elite with national stature, Milner said.
Obama’s endorsement of Abercrombie “certainly doesn’t hurt,” Milner said, adding that it is more important in the Schatz/Hanabusa Senate race.