The Democratic gubernatorial primary pits familiar foes against one another for what is shaping up to be a classic battle. On one side is the large grinning, former United States Congressman. On the other, the charming, constantly singing, former Honolulu Mayor. This race will undoubtedly receive the bulk of the news headlines and completely overshadow the GOP primary. Join Desperate America Report and the Honolulu Coffee Party Examiner as we take a closer look at the two heavyweight Democrats.
Neil Abercrombie came to Hawaii in September of 1959. He attended the University of Hawaii where he earned Master’s degree in Sociology and later a Ph.D. in American Studies. In 1974, Abercrombie ran for the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He was elected to represent the Makiki-Manoa district. He would serve in the State House from 1975-1979. Later that year he would join the State Senate. He held the position until 1986. While in the State Senate, Abercrombie was instrumental in starting the Healthy Start prevention program. The program helps at-risk mothers and children.
Abercrombie won a special election to fill the unexpired term of US Congressman, Cec Heftel. However, he would later lose his reelection bid in the Democratic primary to his current gubernatorial primary opponent, Mufi Hannemann. Abercrombie returned to Hawaii and was elected to the Honolulu City Council. He served as City Councilman from 1988-1990. Abercrombie made his return to the nation’s capitol in 1990 having been elected to represent Hawaii first congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. He would hold the seat until his resignation in December of 2009 to focus on his run for governor.
Abercrombie has long been a supporter of the environment. He is focused on the environment and proposes increasing the attention given to the Department of Land and Natural Resources(DLNR) in an attempt to revitalize the agency and gain public support and trust. The move towards clean energy for Abercrombie begins with an initial government investment into the clean energy industry. This would lead to the creation of the Hawaii Energy Authority which would allow producers to sell directly to the customers. The move would help lower costs for both the manufacturer and the customer.
Challenging Neil Abercrombie is former Honolulu Mayor, Mufi Hannemann. Hannemann was born in Hawaii on July 16, 1954. He attended Iolani School graduating Cum Laude and earning the Headmaster’s Award. He would go on Harvard University where he lettered in varsity basketball. Hannemann would also earn Cum Laude status upon graduation at Harvard. Hannemann would return to Iolani School as a history teacher and varsity basketball coach.
Hannemann spent time as a special assistant in the US Department of the Interior under the Carter Administration as well as being a special assistant to Hawaii Governor, George Ariyoshi. He would later serve in the Reagan administration as a White House Fellow to Vice-President, George H.W. Bush. Hannemann has an impressive resume having worked under four US Presidents and two Hawaii Governors during his many years in public service.
The former Honolulu Mayor has pledged to green light the Honolulu rail transit plan. The plan calls for an increase in jobs for Hawaii’s declining construction market. The rail plan also calls for increased business development along the route. Hannemann also has promised to begin identifying and eliminating government waste and abuse. The hope is to allow for better transparency and increased efficiency in the public sector. He has also expressed a desire to follow the precedent set by the Hawaii Council of Mayors so the Governor and the county Mayors can work together and address the problems of Hawaii.
The battle between Hannemann and Abercrombie will be fierce. The two men battled in 1986 with Abercrombie winning the special election but Hannemann coming out on top in the primary. Hannemann attacked Abercrombie over being soft on drug legislation and on rumors that he smoked marijuana. The mudslinging may have won Hannemann the primary, however, it would come back to bite the Democrat against Republican Pat Saiki in the general election.
This race is probably the most questionable of any of the races. Both candidates have the support of some of Hawaii’s most powerful and influential unions. Both candidates also have the support of some political heavyweights. It will be interesting to see how negative the campaigning will get. There have already been some initial salvos from both sides. However, if the race gets too muddy, it could do more harm than good this time around. Something tells us that the former US Congressman, Neil Abercrombie, will pull out the victory. It will surely be entertaining to watch and should provide some of the best campaign quotes in recent memory.
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