Duke Aiona

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Duke Aiona
Duke Aiona.jpg
10th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 4, 2002 – December 6, 2010
Governor Linda Lingle
Preceded by Mazie Hirono
Succeeded by Brian Schatz
Personal details
Born (1955-06-08) June 8, 1955 (age 62)
Pearl City, Hawaii, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Vivian Welsh
Children 4
Education University of the Pacific (BA)
University of Hawaii, Manoa (JD)

James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr. (born June 8, 1955), is an American politician who served as the tenth Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 2002 to 2010. A member of the Republican Party, he also served both as an attorney and a judge for the state prior to becoming lieutenant governor.

Aiona was the Republican nominee for Governor of Hawaii in the 2010 election, but was defeated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie in the general election. He was the Republican nominee once again in the 2014 election, but lost to Democrat David Ige.


James Aiona was born in Pearl City, Hawaiʻi. He is of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Portuguese descent. He attended Saint Louis School, a local academy of the Diocese of Honolulu. Upon graduating high school, Aiona pursued 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 Hawaiʻi and graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1981.

In 1977, while attending law school, he met Vivian Welsh at a dance in Waikīkī. They married in 1981. They have two sons, Kulia and Makana; and two daughters, Ohulani and Kaimilani.

He began his legal career at the City and County of Honolulu as a deputy prosecutor, and was appointed to the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary in 1990 as a Family Court judge. In 1996, while serving as Circuit Court judge, Aiona became the first administrative judge and primary architect of the Drug Court Program in Hawaiʻi. The program gives non-violent offenders a chance to stay out of prison through active and effective drug rehabilitation. Under his leadership, 85 percent of offenders stayed in the program and out of prison[citation needed].

In his first term as lieutenant governor, Aiona intensified efforts against the problem of illicit drug abuse, including methamphetamine, and underage drinking, which increasingly plagued the state. In 2003, his efforts led to Hawaiʻi's first Drug Control Strategy Summit. This project gathered together government, nonprofit organizations and members of the community to create an all-encompassing strategy that included community mobilization, prevention, treatment and vigorous law enforcement to deal with illegal drug and alcohol use. Production and use of crystal methamphetamine has since been greatly reduced in the state.[citation needed] As lieutenant governor, Aiona was paid $117,312 per annum.[1]

Aiona has served as a member of the advisory council for the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 to the Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities, which advises the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy. He is also a co-chair for the Aerospace States Association, a national organization of Lt. Governors whose purpose is to promote aerospace policies relating to education and economic development. Additionally, Aiona is a co-chair of Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, a national leadership coalition that seeks to prevent underage drinking across the nation.[citation needed]

Electoral history[edit]

Aiona and Governor Linda Lingle became Hawaii's first Republican administration to win a second term, and they won with the largest margin of victory in any gubernatorial race in the history of the state.[2] Aiona ran to succeed Lingle as governor in 2010, but lost to Neil Abercrombie; he ran for governor again in 2014, losing to Democrat David Ige.

Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Linda Lingle/James Aiona 194,338 51.6
Democratic Mazie Hirono/Matt Matsunaga 177,186 47.0
Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Linda Lingle/James Aiona (incumbent) 215,313 62.5 +10.9
Democratic Randy Iwase/Malama Solomon 121,717 35.4
Hawaii gubernatorial election, 2010[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Neil Abercrombie / Brian Schatz 222,724 57.8%
Republican James Aiona / Lynn Finnegan 157,311 40.8%
Turnout 380,035 55.7%

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mazie Hirono
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
Succeeded by
Brian Schatz
Party political offices
Preceded by
Linda Lingle
Republican nominee for Governor of Hawaii
2010, 2014
Most recent