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In a live debate, GOP gubernatorial candidates will make their case to voters

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — The top three Republican gubernatorial candidates — former Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona, MMA champ BJ Penn and City Councilman Heidi Tsuneyoshi — are looking to make their case to the Hawaiian voters of all political stripes on Thursday night in the HNN Super Debate.

The debate starts at 6:30 p.m. on KGMB, K5 and online streaming.

As the debate approaches, Aiona seems to have an advantage over her opponents.

Some 27% of Republican voters said they would support the former lieutenant governor in the primary race, while 24% supported Penn. Tsuneyoshi was voting about 9% among likely voters.

That means the debate could help many Republican voters decide who they support.

[Here’s how to watch the HNN Super Debate on the digital platform of your choice.]

Chad Blair, editor of Civil Beat Politics and Opinion, said if Penn won the nomination, his criminal record would be in question. “As you know, there is not a short list of incidents he has been involved in that are of legal concern,” Blair said, adding that Aiona’s previous experience could be an asset or a liability. – depending on the voter. “I think he determined that all he had to do was get 35-40% of the vote or less to win that nomination.”

Want to hear from the top Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor? Watch them from 8:30 p.m.

In the Civil Beat/HNN poll, Aiona tended to appeal to older, more conservative voters, while Penn supporters tended to be younger and more moderate.

While the primary election on the islands won’t take place until August 13, Hawaii’s mail-in election system means the vast majority of voters will vote much sooner. Ballots must arrive in mailboxes by July 26.

The top vote-getter in the Republican race will face the leading Democratic candidate in the general election.

This is a developing story. Please check for updates.

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