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Duke Aiona

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Duke Aiona
James Aiona, Lt. Governor of Hawaii,speaks to survivors.jpg
Candidate for
Governor of Hawaii
PredecessorMazie Hirono
Prior offices
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
December 4, 2002 – December 6, 2010
High schoolSaint Louis School
Bachelor'sUniversity of the Pacific
J.D.University of Hawaii at Mānoa
Date of birthJune 8, 1955
Place of birthPearl City, Hawaii
Personal website
Campaign website
James R. "Duke" Aiona, Jr. (born June 8, 1955, in Pearl City, Hawaii), is the former Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, having held the office from 2002 until 2010.

Aiona was a Republican candidate for Governor of Hawaii in the 2014 elections.[1] He sought the Republican nomination in the August 9 primary. The general election took place November 4, 2014.

Aiona first entered politics in 2002. He admitted that he did not join the Republican Party until just prior to the start of his primary campaign. His cousin, Sam Aiona, had served as a Republican member of the state legislature. Duke Aiona ran in the Hawaii Republican Party contest for the nomination to join the gubernatorial ticket led by former Mayor of Maui Linda Lingle. Aiona won and advanced to the general election in November of that year. In December, Aiona was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at the Hawaii State Capitol rotunda to become the state's 10th Lieutenant Governor.

Aiona got his nickname "Duke", named after Dodgers center-fielder Duke Snider, from his father, James Aiona, Sr. He is of Chinese, Portuguese and Hawaiian descent.

Prior to his election as lieutenant governor in 2002, he was a jurist, serving both as an attorney and a judge for the state.

He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Hawaii in 2010, losing to Democrat Neil Abercrombie in the November 2, 2010 general election.


Aiona was born in Pearl City, Hawaii.[2] He attended Saint Louis School, a local Roman Catholic academy of the Diocese of Honolulu. Upon graduating high school, Aiona left the island to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in political science, which he received from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in 1977. Aiona returned to Hawaii and graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in 1981.

Aiona began his career as an attorney in the public sector holding various positions in the City & County of Honolulu. He was deputy prosecuting attorney for the state of Hawaii under Charles Marsland. In 1990, Aiona was appointed by Hawaii Governor John D. Waihee III to the Hawaii State Judiciary. He became a judge of the Hawaii State Family Courts and had exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving legal minors involving delinquency, status offenses, abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, adoption, guardianships and detention among others. Aiona also oversaw cases of domestic relations involving divorce, child support and custody matters.

He was known for having upset defense attorneys for the way he talked to the juvenile defendants. He believed he was supplying them with discipline. "Our young people want someone to discipline them and tell them what's right and what's wrong," he said. "They really search for that and they really appreciate that."

In 1993, Aiona was appointed to the First Circuit Court in Honolulu. The Hawaii State Circuit Courts are the primary civil and criminal courts in Hawaii. Aiona became famous for his tough rulings for drug offenses. Aiona retired in 1998 to work in the private sector.


  • Saint Louis School
  • Bachelor of Arts, political science - University of the Pacific (1977)
  • Juris Doctor - University of Hawaii at Mānoa (1981)

Political career

Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii (2002-2010)

Aiona was elected Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in the 2002 general election, on a ticket with Republican gubernatorial nominee, former Mayor of Maui, Linda Lingle. On December 2, 2010, Aiona was sworn in as Hawaii's 10th Lieutenant Governor at an inauguration ceremony at the Hawaii State Capitol rotunda. He and Lingle ran together again in 2010, winning re-election to their second terms in the general election on November 2, 2010.


Personal driver's traffic violation

In 2005, Aiona's personal driver was caught on camera in breaking a new state law right after Aiona had made a public presentation about that same very law. Local ABC affiliate KITV reporter Keoki Kerr reported that after a press conference about a state law that made it illegal to drive a vehicle through a crosswalk with a pedestrian in the crosswalk, news cameras caught Aiona's personal driver almost hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk.


He was known as having a temper, but, according to his wife, he mellowed with age. [1] He was questioned about his temper at his confirmation hearing for the state circuit court bench. Judiciary committee member State Senator Matt Matsunaga asked if Aiona recalled getting kicked out of a lawyer's league basketball game in the late 1980s. Matsunaga was satisfied with the explanation that it was a misunderstanding and voted in favor of the appointment.[3]



See also: Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2014

Aiona ran for election to the office of Governor of Hawaii. He sought the Republican nomination in the primary on August 9.[1] The general election took place November 4, 2014.


See also: Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010

Aiona faced Neil Abercrombie (D), Daniel H. Cunningham (Free Energy) and Tom Pollard (Non-Partisan) in the general election on November 2, 2010. Abercrombie won the election, with 58% of the vote to Aiona's 41%.[4]


In 1977, while attending law school, he met Vivian Welsh at a dance in Waikīkī. They married in 1982.[5] They have two sons, Kulia and Makana; and two daughters, Ohulani and Kaimilani. In 1998, he retired from his position as a state circuit judge, stating that the $87,000 annual salary was not enough to support his family. As of 2005, the annual salary he received as lieutenant governor was $90,041.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from November 4, 2010.


This article was adapted from Wikipedia 6/21/07.