Praise And Revulsion In Gov’s Race
My deadline for submitting copy to MidWeek is Wednesday at noon. Occasionally, I nail it. (“Very occasionally,” my editor mumbles as she reads this.) So if you, my dear 11 regular readers, are looking for my reaction to the election results, look no further. As I write, the ballots haven’t been counted. Indeed, many of them haven’t been cast.
So allow me, if you choose to read on, some reflections on the campaign that’s drawing to a close.
Observation No. 1: The gubernatorial candidates — Republican Duke Aiona, Libertarian Jeff Davis, Independent Mufi Hannemann and Democrat David Ige — deserve a shoutout.
“For what,” asks one of my irregular, ever angry, often disdainful readers, “two gubernatorial reruns from 2010, another who scores off the low end of the charisma scale and a fourth who never had a chance of winning? Give me a break.”
Here’s for what — for showing up on the same platform repeatedly. Between 16 and 20 times, by Aiona’s count, at least 15 by mine, a half-dozen of which were televised.
A cast of Aiona, Hannemann and Ige — with guest appearances by Davis — seldom made for scintillating television, but that didn’t matter. It allowed the voter to comparison shop, to take their measure as each dealt with questions on education, transportation, the cost of living, kupuna care, early childhood education, Hawaii’s business climate, taxation, abortion, same-sex marriage and more.
That doesn’t always happen. Candidates possessed of gobs of money, the majority party’s label or incumbency normally avoid sitting down with their opponents, particularly in front of a television camera. But these guys never blinked. That was refreshing.
Observation No. 2: The final days of the 2014 campaign also deserve the sounds of revulsion. In the contests for governor and 1st District congressman,
Hawaii, has been deluged by political action committee money, its sources dimly known.
The money buys endless television commercials shot in the style of political noir — a dark David Ige, surrounded by heavy seas about to roll over the poor, hapless voters of Hawaii, should he be elected governor.
Or a grinning Mark Takai, surrounded by greenbacks rather than water and flashing a shaka sign. Why? Because he’s voted to raise taxes and has said that “it’s important sometimes” to do so. Which, of course, it is, and only a Republican who’s drunk more than his share at a Tea Party would argue otherwise.
Or the most washed-out picture of Duke Aiona ever taken on an 8-and-a-half-by-11-inch mailer. It’s accompanied by text that asserts that Aiona has “extreme views on women’s health issues.” Or on another mailer, that as lieutenant governor, he joined then-Gov. Linda Lingle in “recklessly cutting $100 million from our public schools and implemented Furlough Fridays.”
Duke, the lieutenant governor, did that? Lieutenant governors have the power to do — as Aiona has guilelessly admitted — nothing. And even if he did, the state was, after all, in the midst of the Great Recession.
The anti-Ige and anti-Takai advertising comes from American Comeback Committee PAC, 1747 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. It does its banking in Northern Virginia. The anti-Aiona stuff comes from Hawaii Forward; it shelters its funds at national lobbyists’ main street: K Street, Washington, D.C.
Their simplistic messages are not, of course, “authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” Perhaps not. But Aiona and Ige, Takai and Charles Djou should have shouted them down the moment they first appeared.