Ben Cayetano

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Ben Cayetano
Ben Cayetano Portrait.jpg
5th Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 2, 1994 – December 2, 2002
Lieutenant Mazie Hirono
Preceded by John Waihee
Succeeded by Linda Lingle
8th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 2, 1986 – December 2, 1994
Governor John Waihee
Preceded by John Waihee
Succeeded by Mazie Hirono
Personal details
Born Benjamin Jerome Cayetano
(1939-11-14) November 14, 1939 (age 74)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lorraine Gueco (1959–1996)
Vicky Tiu Liu (1997–present)
Children 5
Alma mater Los Angeles Harbor College
University of California, Los Angeles
Loyola Law School
Signature

Benjamin Jerome "Ben" Cayetano (born November 14, 1939) served as the fifth Governor of the State of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002. He is the first Filipino American to serve as a state governor in the United States. On January 19, 2012 Cayetano announced that he would be running for Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. Cayetano's main focus in his mayoral campaign is greater transparency in local government, including ending the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, a plan to build a 20-mile elevated steel on steel rail system in the city.

Early years[edit]

Born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, Cayetano was estranged from his mother at a young age. Cayetano was raised by his father in Kalihi, an ethnic Filipino neighborhood west of Downtown Honolulu. He would grow up as a latchkey child. In Kalihi, he attended Wallace Rider Farrington High School, a public school aptly known locally as "Home of the Governors" as its buildings were named after several early Hawaiʻi statesmen. The school was only a few blocks from his home. Cayetano received poor grades throughout his years at Farrington and was often disciplined by his teachers and counselors. He barely made marks qualifying him to graduate.

Upon graduation Cayetano married Lorraine Gueco, his high school sweetheart. After the birth of his son Brandon in 1959, he worked a variety of entry-level jobs, such as a metal-packer in a junkyard, truck driver, apprentice electrician, and finally as a draftsman. Frustrated by what he felt were racially motivated and politically unfair hiring practices, he and his family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1963 in pursuit of an education in law.

Cayetano attended Los Angeles Harbor College and eventually transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles in 1966. In 1968, he graduated from UCLA with a major in political science and minor in American history. In 1971, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School.[1]

He then began his career in public service in 1972 when he was appointed to the Hawaii Housing Authority [1]. In 1974, he was elected to the state house as a Democrat representing Pearl City.

Lieutenant governor[edit]

Cayetano joined the John D. Waihee III gubernatorial ticket in 1986 and became the first Filipino American Lieutenant Governor in the United States. The Waihee/Cayetano ticket was re-elected to a second term in 1990. In his capacity as Lieutenant Governor, Cayetano established the A+ Program, a state-funded, universal, after-school care program with chartered organizations at each public elementary school in Hawaiʻi.

Cayetano administration[edit]

Term limits forced Waihee into retirement and the Democratic Party nominated Cayetano to run for Governor of Hawaiʻi in 1994. With attorney Mazie K. Hirono as his running mate, Cayetano was voted into office.

In 1998, Mayor of Maui Linda Lingle was nominated by the Republican Party to run against Cayetano on an agenda of government reform. For months leading into election day, Cayetano trailed Lingle in the major media polls. In the closest election in Hawaii's history, Cayetano won a second term by a single percentage point validated by an official recount of ballots.[citation needed]

Cayetano left office in December 2002. He was succeeded by former Republican challenger Lingle.[citation needed]

Throughout his tenure in office, Cayetano had to contend with economic uncertainty and serious fiscal problems. Declining tax revenues led to budget shortfalls, and the governor often found himself at odds with his fellow Democrats in the state legislature as he attempted to implement budget cuts to balance the state budget.[citation needed]

On education, the Cayetano administration built thirteen new schools, and he was able to persuade the teachers' union to extend the school year by seven days. Also under his administration, the University of Hawaiʻi system gained autonomy over internal affairs. On the other hand, labor disputes with UH professors and public school teachers in April 2001 led to simultaneous strikes by both unions that crippled the state's entire educational system for three weeks.[citation needed]

On January 19, 2012, Cayetano came out of retirement to run for the office of Honolulu Mayor.[2] In the primary election on August 11, 2012, he received more votes than either of his primary opponents, Kirk Caldwell and Peter Carlisle. However, he did not achieve the majority required to win the election outright, and faced Caldwell in the general election on November 6.[3] Cayetano subsequently lost the mayoral election to Kirk Caldell.


Personal life[edit]

Cayetano is currently married to his second wife, Vicky Cayetano (maiden name, Liu), whom he married on May 5, 1997. Vicky was president of United Laundry Services at the time of their wedding.[4] She played a major supporting role opposite Elvis Presley in the musical film, It Happened at the World's Fair.

Cayetano and his first wife, former Hawaii First Lady Lorraine Cayetano, divorced in 1996, ending their thirty-seven year marriage.[4] He became the first sitting Hawaiian governor to divorce while in office.[4]

Ben Cayetano has five children. He has three children from his first marriage to Lorraine Cayetano: Brandon, Janeen, and Samantha. Vicky Cayetano also has two children, Marissa and William, from a previous marriage when Cayetano married her.

He appeared as himself in an episode of Baywatch Hawaii in 1999.

Electoral history[edit]

Honolulu Mayoral Election 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Nonpartisan Ben Cayetano 133,154 46.1%
Nonpartisan Kirk Caldwell 155,664 53.9%
Honolulu mayoral primary election, 2012[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Ben Cayetano 90,956 44.1%
Nonpartisan Kirk Caldwell 59,963 29.1%
Nonpartisan Peter Carlisle (incumbent) 51,101 24.8%
Blank Votes 2,678 1.3%
Nonpartisan Khistina Caldwell Dejean 1,289 0.6%
Over Votes 47 0.0%
Totals 206,034 100%
Hawaii Gubernatorial Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ben Cayetano (incumbent) 204,206 50.11
Republican Linda Lingle 198,952 48.82
Libertarian George Peabody 4,398 1.08
Hawaii Gubernatorial Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ben Cayetano 134,978 36.58
Independent Frank Fasi 113,158 30.67
Republican Pat Saiki 107,908 29.24
Green Kioni Dudley 12,969 3.51

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Benjamin Cayetano, Governor of Hawaii". UCLA Spotlight. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ Honolulu Star-Advertiser (19 January 2012). "Cayetano will run for mayor as anti-rail candidate". 
  3. ^ "Primary Election 2012 - State of Hawaii - Final Summary Report". State of Hawaii, Office of Elections. August 12, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Borreca, Richard (2012-08-01). "Rallying The Faithful: Defending the Democratic Party and mustering the troops, Cayetano pushes for another term". New York Times. Retrieved 1998-10-23. 
  5. ^ "PRIMARY ELECTION 2012 - State of Hawaii - Statewide". State Of Hawaii Office of Elections. Retrieved September 29, 2012. 

External links[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Cayetano, Benjamin J. (2009). Ben: A Memoir, from Street Kid to Governor. Watermark Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9790647-0-8. 
Political offices
Preceded by
John Waihee
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
1986–1994
Succeeded by
Mazie Hirono
Governor of Hawaii
1994–2002
Succeeded by
Linda Lingle