Nelson Doi

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Nelson Doi
Nelson Doi.jpg
5th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 2, 1974 – December 2, 1978
Governor George Ariyoshi
Preceded by George Ariyoshi
Succeeded by Jean King
Personal details
Born Nelson Kiyoshi Doi
(1922-01-01)January 1, 1922
Pahoa, Territory of Hawaii
Died May 16, 2015(2015-05-16) (aged 93)
Waimea, Hawaii
Political party Democratic
Profession Judge, Politician

Nelson Kiyoshi Doi (January 1, 1922 – May 16, 2015), was the fifth Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1974 to 1978 in the first elected administration of Governor George Ariyoshi. Doi was a member of the Hawaii Democratic Party.[1][2]

Early and Legislative Years[edit]

Doi attended the University of Hawaii, where he was president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii from December 1944 to June 1945 (Yim).

Doi began his political career at the 1950 Hawaiʻi State Constitutional Convention that drafted the first state laws for Hawaiʻi that went into effect in 1959. During that Convention, Doi noted “a frustration that began to ferment” amongst the delegates (Arakawa and Pang). In the 1954 election, that frustration led to a huge victory for the Democrats, who seized control of what had been a territory dominated by Republicans. Doi, representing Hawaii Island, was one of the victorious Democrats. Other Democrats first elected in 1954 included U.S. Senator Dan Inouye, former Governor George Ariyoshi, the late U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga.

After that victory in 1954, Doi then served in the Hawaii Territorial Senate in 1955-1959 and then in the Hawaiʻi State Senate from 1959 to 1969. During his tenure in the Senate, Doi was frequently at odds with Governor John A. Burns and Senate Democratic leaders (McDannald).

In 1968, Doi was one of 82 delegates to the Hawaii Constitutional Convention held at McKinley High School. Among the issues addressed at the Convention were reapportioning legislative districts, mandating an annual 60-day legislative session, lengthening the terms of judges, authorizing collective bargaining for public employees, strengthening privacy rights for individuals, enhancing county home rule, and creating the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Other prominent political figures who were among the delegates were George Ariyoshi, Frank Fasi, and Patricia Saiki.

Judiciary and Lieutenant Governor[edit]

In 1970, Doi left the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, after being appointed to the Hawaii State Judiciary as a circuit court judge where he served for five years. Also in 1970, Doi entered the race for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, at first aligning himself with fellow Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Thomas Gill. After disagreements with Gill on commitments on political appointments, Doi decided to run independently (Coffman). Ultimately, both Gill and Doi were defeated by John A. Burns and George Ariyoshi, respectively.

In 1974, Doi was chosen as the running mate for George Ariyoshi. Fourteen months earlier, Ariyoshi, the previous Lieutenant Governor, became Acting Governor upon the incapacitating illness of longtime Governor John A. Burns. Ariyoshi and Doi emerged victorious, becoming the first-ever Japanese Americans to hold simultaneously the Governor and Lieutenant Governor posts of any state in the U.S. Doi was the second Japanese American to hold the position of state Lieutenant Governor.[3]

Later years[edit]

After his service as Lieutenant Governor, Doi ran for Mayor of Honolulu and was defeated by Frank Fasi. Doi also ran in the 1977 Honolulu Marathon, finishing in 4 hours, 30 minutes, and “besting his wife by just one minute” (Donnelly). In 1977, he also was appointed to then-territorial High Court of the Marshall Islands. Upon his retirement from that court, Doi taught at various schools in Japan. Doi returned to Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi where he helped build the North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital.

Additionally, Doi had interests in Maharishi Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, and Erhard Seminars Training (EST).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Lawrence Kestenbaum (July 1, 1996). "Doi, Nelson K". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Former Lt. Gov. Nelson Doi dies on Hawaii island". Star Advertiser. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Niiya, Brian (1993). Japanese American History: An A-To-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present. Facts on File. p. 129. ISBN 0816026807. 
Political offices
Preceded by
George Ariyoshi
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
1974 - 1978
Succeeded by
Jean King