The Pros-Cons Of Running For LG

Larry Price
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Wednesday - February 10, 2010
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The job of lieutenant governor in Hawaii has often been called the “nothing job” in political circles.

But there must be something about nothing because there are already six Hawaii Democrats running for LG in this year’s election (but no Republicans as MidWeek went to press): State Reps. Lyla Berg (D. Hahaione Valley-Aina Haina) and Jon Riki Karamatsu, and former Democratic Party chairman Brain Schatz. Also on the slate are Sens. Robert Bunda, Gary Hooser and Norman Sakamoto. Why?

The most exciting aspect of the job is the LG is the goto person if you want to change your name - that office is where the forms are located. The LG used to be in charge of elections, but that was changed several years ago.


Hawaii has produced some great lieutenant governors: Tom Gill, Jean Sadako King and Ben Cayetano, to name a few. In this group, all wanted to be governor of the state of Hawaii, but only Cayetano made it to the top of the political ladder (his creation of the A-Plus afterschool program was a big help). This would seem to indicate that it’s a long shot at best for those running for LG counting on be elected governor when the office becomes vacant.

Other motivating factors, even if you don’t make it to the promised land: the spacious koa office on the ewa end of the fifth floor of the Square Building on South Beretania Street, a very nice staff, free rent, a nice car to ride around in, tight security and flight privileges to wherever the “nothing job” calls you.

Politicians refer to running for LG like an arranged marriage, because there is no guarantee that you will be favorably matched with whomever wins the governor’s race. You may be matched with someone you don’t get along with philosophically. Example: Of the six Democrats committed to run so far, with which gubernatorial candidate would you match them? Remember, whoever wins the primary is automatically matched with whoever wins the gubernatorial primary. The two will then take their arranged marriage into the hotly contested general election. History shows these matches have not always worked at the polls.

When dealing with job satisfaction, the No. 1 aspect is motivation. Many organizations do not believe in rewarding their employees with special gifts or bonuses. To them, that is what salaries and wages are for. But that’s not quite true in the world of elective politics. There are a lot of additional benefits as you move up the political ladder, and the LG chair is one step away from that big brass ring.


Let’s not forget, none of these elected candidates has to give up his or her job to take a shot at a higher office. The longer-than-usual list of Democrat candidates could be attributed to incumbent Duke Aiona serving out his.

Starting back in the 1950s, psychologists started to focus on theories of motivation and how management can use this research to their advantage in dealing with human relations. People need recognition. Motivation theorist Abraham Maslow came up with the notion that humans have hierarchies of needs, and once their need is satisfied, they move on to the next level. The first has to do with survival - things like food, air, water and shelter. After that comes the belonging need - humans need to be connected. Then comes the esteem need - the need to feel important.

Lastly is the need for self-actualization - the highest need. This is the need most politicians talk about when expressing their desire to serve the public, or said another way, realizing your potential or using your abilities to the fullest.

Hopefully, along the way to the top of the ladder these politicians realize the voters also need to be motivated to participate. But remember, voters need recognition, too.

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