BJ Penn appears to be gaining support from his fellow fighters in his quest to become the next governor of Hawaii.
The latest fighter to throw his weight behind the former champion is Nate Diaz, who, despite being unsure what government office Penn was running for, encouraged listeners to donate to his gubernatorial campaign during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour.
“I just talked to BJ Penn earlier,” Diaz told Ariel Helwani on the show. “Shoutout to BJ Penn. Let’s all vote for BJ Penn to be…uh…governor of Hawaii. Let’s all donate to my guy BJ Penn. He is doing fundraisers right now or some shit like that. It don’t matter—I’m with BJ Penn.”
Penn officially announced his intention to run for governor of Hawaii as Republican alongside four other GOP candidates in April with the aim of replacing incumbent Democratic Governor David Ige, who is term-limited and ineligible to run for a third term in office.
Penn joined the GOP after finding his political fervor during the pandemic. The former fighter spoke out against mask mandates and vaccine restrictions, promising to lift them if elected governor. He has since voiced his support for the second amendment following the Robb Elementary School shooting while also announcing himself as “for life” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Despite Penn’s inexperience and lack of campaign goals or policy framework, his decision to run for office sparked increased interest in the gubernatorial race. A recent Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now poll puts Penn in a close second to former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona with a significant percentage of undecideds, suggesting that the former UFC champion could win the Republican nomination in the coming weeks.