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DeCoite secures win over Ritte; McKelvey and Walker top Senate District 6 primaries

After narrowly beating Walter Ritte in the 2020 Democratic primary, Sen. Lynn DeCoite handily defended her seat on Saturday night in a rematch with Ritte. Photo courtesy Lynn DeCoite

In the closely watched Democratic primary race for state Senate District 7, incumbent Sen. Lynn DeCoite beat challenger Walter Ritte by a much wider margin on Saturday night.

DeCoite had a commanding lead with 5,011 votes, or 58.7 percent, over Ritte, who had 2,260 votes, or 26.5 percent after the second printout. Third was Leo Caires with 550 votes. or 6.4 percent. DeCoite will go on to the general election against Republican Tamara McKay. Senate District 7 covers East Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.

In 2020, Ritte ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary against then-state Rep. DeCoite for the House District 13 seat in a race that was decided by fewer than 100 votes and required a recount.

“I’m feeling good,” DeCoite said after the second printout. “It was nice to know the people took a look at everything and said, ‘she’s doing the work for the people and the honesty and respect for everyone along the way.’ “

DeCoite said she is willing to “reach out to everybody,” no matter what the stance is.

Walter Ritte, who came within fewer than 100 votes of beating Lynn DeCoite in 2020, fell far shorter this time around. Photo courtesy Walter Ritte

“I just appreciate the entire district and what they have to say, and they said it tonight and I’m very, very, grateful to all of them and my supporters and team DeCoite. They have been very strong and instrumental and they never left my side.”

Compared to the last showdown with Ritte, DeCoite said: “I knew this would be different because, people saw what happened in the last election and the people of Molokai has lived here. They understand that things that are done here and it hasn’t been reflective of the people of Molokai, it’s been reflective of my opponent and if you no agree with him, he going do everything in his power to criticize you without even trying to sit down and be realistic.”

Reached after the second printout, Ritte had been asleep as he said he was dealing with COVID-19.

When asked about the momentum this election, Ritte said: “I don’t think I was fully into this.”

He said he ran this time as three candidates together, along with Poepoe and Council Member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez.

Rep. Angus McKelvey won more than 50 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary for Senate District 6. Photo courtesy Angus McKelvey

In the state Senate District 6 Democratic primary, Angus McKelvey had 2,864 votes, or 51 percent, followed by Shaina Forsyth with 1,075 votes, or 19.1 percent, and Tamara Goebbert with 749 votes, or 13.3 percent. Senate District 6 was redistricted to include southern areas of Wailuku and Kahului, as well as South and West Maui.

McKelvey held a steady lead after the first printout.

“The first print out is kind of the big enchilada. Granted the voting center was busy, but I’m hoping the projections will hold. When all the votes are tallied it will continue our good strong showing and we will be successful,” McKelvey said after the first printout.

“I’m a little verklempt, teary eyed, I’m so, so, eternally grateful for each and every person that took the time to cast their ballot for us,” he added. “To support us and believes in what we are trying to do to make Maui a better place. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.”

McKelvey said as the general election approaches, he intends to get our more than during the primary. He hopes to have the support of those who backed his Democratic opponents in the primary.

Sheila Walker won the Republican primary for the Senate District 6 seat, beating Philip Raya. Photo courtesy Sheila Walker

“It will be a very spirited general election for sure,” he said via cellphone from his home in Lahaina.

“The differences in the nominees in this race is very stark,” he added. “The problems that we have are not Republican problems and are not Democrat problems. There are Maui problems, people problems.”

“This is a campaign that was built on hope. It’s a campaign in believing in fighting for the little guy. Going forward we want to continue this message of hope as things look bleak, we are determined to fight to continue to turn things around and create a Maui not only where working families can continue to stay and thrive but where future generations aren’t forced to leave,” McKelvey said.

McKelvey will face off against Republican Sheila Walker, who had 875 votes, or 44 percent, compared to Philip Raya, who had 690 votes, or 34.7 percent.

“Things are looking good but I’m never going to be too cocky, anything can happen at the last minute,” Walker said after the first printout with her in the lead. “I know everything is in the hands of God. What will be, will be.”

“It’s not over until the fat lady sings,” she said.

If she makes it through, she said, “this is where the rubber hits the road.”

“It’s going to be full throttle.”

Melissah Shishido, who had no opponent as the Green Party candidate for Senate District 7, got 32 votes.

Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran, who ran uncontested for his Central Maui Senate District 5 seat, received 6,507 votes.

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