B.J. Penn will not be the next governor of Hawaii.
Penn, a UFC Hall of Famer and former lightweight and welterweight champion, launched a campaign for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year. In the Republican primary, according to The Associated Press, Penn lost by a wide margin to Duke Aiona.
Aiona has nearly 52 percent of the votes with 90 percent of precincts reporting. Penn has a little more than 24 percent of ballots counted, which gave him runner-up status, but still blown out by Aiona.
That sets up Aiona for a November gubernatorial race against Josh Green, who won a blowout in the Democratic primary. Green likely will be projected to win that race for governor. In the primaries, more than 216,000 Democratic ballots were cast compared to a little more than 59,000 in the Republican race.
Green and Aiona will face off to become the next governor and succeed current Gov. David Ige, who is not able to run for re-election due to term limits. Hawaii’s elections are conducted both in person and with mail-in ballots. The deadline for primary ballots was 7 p.m. Hawaii time Saturday.
Penn posted many videos to his candidacy website in the months leading up to the primary with what he said were “comprehensive solutions to make Hawaii prosperous and strong.”
Before he made his decision to run official, he indicated he would put ending COVID-19 restrictions at the forefront of his campaign.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I would never run from a fight or sell out my people,” Penn posted on Instagram in October 2021. “As soon as I step into Hawaii’s Governor office I will remove All new federal and state mandates that have been hurting our economy, residents, and ‘ohana. We will get the best doctors, medicines, therapies, and health care the world has to offer to fight this pandemic and always keep Hawaii among the safest and healthiest states in the union.
“We will get rid of all vaccine passports. Hawaii will be a vaccinated with Aloha and Unvaccinated with Aloha policy for everyone. Same with the masks. We will follow the constitution to the tee. I am not here to fit in with the other politicians, I am here to get our freedoms back!”
Penn has not fought since a May 2019 loss to Clay Guida. He was booked to fight rival Nik Lentz in late 2019, but the fight never happened. In his final nearly 10 years with the UFC, Penn lost seven straight fights. Starting with his loss of the lightweight title to Frankie Edgar in April 2010, he had a run of more than nine years in which he went 1-9-1.
Penn was released from the UFC after videos of him in a brawl outside a bar surfaced online. One video shows Penn being dropped by a punch, and another showed Penn pummeling the individual on the ground.
Penn has a history of legal issues. In April 2019, Penn was issued a restraining order after the mother of his children accused him of years of physical and sexual abuse. In February 2020, Penn was investigated on suspicion of DUI following a single-car motor vehicle crash and subsequent blood-alcohol test in his hometown of Hilo. In January 2021, Penn was caught on video being placed in handcuffs by police on suspicion of DUI following a reckless driving complaint.