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How a Las Vegas Crooner Won Enough Votes to Help Keep Hawai‘i’s U.S. Senate Race a Nail Biter

Las Vegas entertainer Brian Evans ran for U.S. Senate to bring attention to his mother’s unfortunate death from sleep apnea.


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Meet Las Vegas entertainer who, by some accounts, played the role of a spoiler (think: Ralph Nader) in Hawai‘i’s recent Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

The unknown third candidate, who spent no money on advertising and held no campaign events save for one speech on the Big Island, garnered a surprising 4,842 votes. In such a close race—where Sen. Brian Schatz would eventually win by just 1,769 votes over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa—the votes cast for Evans could have made all the difference.

“Had I not run, it could have changed the election that night,” Evans says, relishing how he had siphoned away enough votes from the top candidates that they needed to rely on two precincts in Puna on the Big Island to decide the election. “They had to wait because of Helen Bousquet.”

Helen Bousquet is Evans’ mom. She died in 2012 from sleep apnea as she lay in a hospital recovery room following knee surgery, he says. The 44-year-old entertainer has been reeling ever since, moving from Massachusetts to the Big Island, where he launched his under-the-radar run for U.S. Senate to bring attention to her unfortunate death.

Evans is no politician. Far from it. But he’s gained the spotlight in less-than-conventional ways. Known as “The Croonerman,” he’s a big-band singer who has appeared in Sin City showrooms with names that include Dionne Warwick and Joan Rivers. He penned a Boston Red Sox tribute song, “At Fenway,” which became a viral sensation with Sox fans in early 2012. His colorful past also includes a 1991 arrest for impersonating radio host Casey Kasem, and prison time for violating his parole to sing a gig at a Baltimore stadium. And this is not even his first foray into Hawai‘i politics. He ran for U.S. Senate before, back in 2004, against the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

Evans, admitting he never thought he’d win, says he decided to run after seeing how much national media attention the Hanabusa-Schatz race had received from the likes of The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Evans has successfully petitioned state governors to make proclamations on sleep apnea awareness, and he’s still hoping that President Barack Obama will do the same, he says.  “It’s a sad world when you have to run for political office to bring attention to a problem,” he says.

Running for U.S. Senate—albeit as a long-shot candidate—has earned Evans some attention (the page views to his mom’s website, helenbousquet.com, have shot up). And the end result of the election, he believes, is a sign his efforts weren’t in vain.

 

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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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