Hawaii governor prevails over Democratic challenger — despite missile attack false alarm

"THIS IS NOT A DRILL," the January 13 missile false alarm warned.

David Ige speaks at his election night headquarters. (Credit: Screenshot, Hawaii News Now, Twitter)
David Ige speaks at his election night headquarters. (Credit: Screenshot, Hawaii News Now, Twitter)

Hawaii’s governor survived a scare from his Democratic challenger – and moved beyond a potentially career-ending political jeopardy over a false nuclear missile alert earlier this year – to win his state’s Democratic primary late Saturday.

Governor David Ige officially becomes his party’s standard-bearer for the November election in his bid for a second term. He defeated Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the U.S. Congress who gave up her seat to challenge him.

“I just got off the phone with Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, and she wished us congratulations and more importantly, she pledged her support to make sure that we can elect a Democratic governor,” Ige said in a victory speech after Hanabusa conceded, according to a tweet by Hawaii News Now.

The Star Adviser newspaper described the governor’s victory was as a “stunning reversal of fortune.”

Ige emerged politically wounded after his government’s 38-minute delay in responding to a false report back in January about an incoming missile from North Korea.


On January 13, officials mistakenly sent an alert of an incoming missile attack, warning, “THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” to cellphones, radios and television sets across Hawaii. The alert led to a mass panic as people across Hawaii believed they were about to die.

Hanabusa made the false alarm a major campaign issue, but was unable to capitalize on it enough to convince voters to oust Ige.

A worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s mistakenly sent out the errant warning.

Ige prevailed despite the endorsement for Hanabusa by Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the U.S. Congress who is one of the most popular figures in Hawaii politics, held a press conference early this year to endorse Hanabusa, citing the incumbent governor’s “failure of leadership” during the Jan. 13 ballistic missile false alert.

Ige faces off in November against Republican challenger Andria Tupola, who like the governor, emerged victorious from her primary contest on Saturday.