A debate ‘scrap’ was promised, but the Hawaii GOP threw something more than a ‘love party’

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — On social media posts, UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn promised a “tough” during Thursday’s Republican gubernatorial debate, but the night turned completely the opposite.

Instead, the debate showed that the beef of the GOP candidates is with the Democratic establishment.

While there were heated exchanges between the Democratic gubernatorial candidates, some called the Republican debate a “love fest.”

On the debate stage, Republican candidate Heidi Tsuneyoshi asked Penn what experience he would bring to the governor’s office.

“As governor, I’m running because the system is down,” Penn said.

“As a kupuna of the Republican Party, I feel like I should congratulate you all,” former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona said.

[SPECIAL SECTION: HNN Super Debate]

“I think he lacks experience, there’s no doubt about that,” he added, referring to Penn.

When it was Aiona’s turn to ask another candidate a question, he refused.

“It’s not about taking the high road. Please see my heart on this. I’m so proud of everyone,” Aiona said.

Penn then also declined to ask a question.

“When this continues and I become governor, I would like to say: ‘Hey uncle, I need advice, uh Heidi, you are with me. You come with me,” Penn said.

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The candidates were asked about Penn’s misdemeanor arrests for impaired driving and whether that mattered.

“I had my challenges. I learned a lot and I’m ready to share what I learned with people,” Penn said.

Tsuneyoshi added, “I think every voter should do their own due diligence. Find out about the situation. See what their comfort level is about what happened and vote according to your conscience.

Candidates also answered questions about housing, the environment, the Thirty Meter Telescope and what they would do if hospitals were overwhelmed with covid patients. Penn says they can have their treatment at home.

“It’s been two years and they haven’t made any beds yet. I know they did. There are plenty of beds in everyone’s house,” Penn said.

Penn was asked to clarify.

“Everyone has a bed in people’s house,” he said.

“If our hospitals are running out of beds and we haven’t put any more beds in the last two years and it looks like there’s a problem, we have to find beds in people’s homes.”

Former Aloha Freedom coalition leader Gary Cordery is also running on the GOP ticket. His supporters had demanded that he be allowed to participate in the debate.

“All of our constituents and many people in Hawaii yearn for a candidate who will tell the truth,” Cordery said.

With 10 GOP primary candidates, Hawaii News Now chose to feature the top three Republicans and the top three Democrats.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.


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