Abercrombie’s Chances For Re-election

Will Hawaii re-elect Gov. Neil Abercrombie? | File photo

Will Hawaii re-elect Gov. Neil Abercrombie? | File photo

I don’t think anyone can say with a straight face that this has been a what-people-expected first term for Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Of course, truth be told, we liked Abercrombie most when he was away in Washington pondering military appropriations and not when he was the loud upstart in the City Council and the Legislature.

He was fun as a political gadfly, less so when he became the state’s chief decision maker.

Now people seem to be saying, “Who else can we vote for?” His old legislative buddy Ben Cayetano has defected to the David Ige camp. Ex-governor George Ariyoshi is there, too.

What’s up?

The non-partisan, Congress-following group wrote of Abercrombie as a congressman three years ago: “(He) is a follower according to our statistical analysis of bills in this legislative session. Abercrombie tends to cosponsor the bills of other members of Congress who do not co-sponsor Abercrombie’s own bills.”

He has a temper and intimates will tell you once he’s mad at you he won’t easily forget. He has an offhand speaking style. I attended a Planned Parenthood dinner where he did the obligatory praises for a cabinet member and a House member. He missed an opportunity to say something meaningful and memorable about what ails us. He was forgettable. He obviously had not planned, written and rewritten that talk. But again, his people say that’s him.

People are tending to see him as Mr. Kowtow To Developers because of the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) stink. I guess he’s looking at growth and the tax base, but he hasn’t explained his pro-development stance in those terms.

He’ll tell us he’s brought in a state surplus and he’s pro-woman-owns-her-body – and that’s good – but he hasn’t said where we’re going and why.

His election theme of “A New Day” is joke material for pundits. It’s been a revolving door with staffers. The “outsiders” he brought in didn’t mesh with the “insiders.” Even veteran PR man Jim Boersema found things to be dysfunctional in the inner sanctum and quit. Agriculture director Russell Kokubun resigned to help Colleen Hanabusa rather than the governor’s man Brian Schatz in the U.S. Senate race.

But the campaign money is pouring in. Fat Cats always can smell a winner like kitties smell canned tuna or hear the can opener.

The problem this year for opponents is that, in the Democratic primary, David Ige will not be a statewide-known candidate, is unlikely to draw the big money, and the eventual GOP challenger Duke Aiona is doomed as a known religious conservative in a progressive state.

Yes, there could be unexpected twists – as when many Democrats defected to GOP candidates Pat Saiki and Linda Lingle, or when Hawaii Island voters abandoned Democrat Dante Carpenter for mayor in favor of the who’s-ever-heard-of-him Republican Bernard Akana.

But I rate that unlikely this year.

I rate Abercrombie this year like Barack Obama in 2014. Progressives don’t feel they got what they expected or wanted, but then how often do they? So go with the old flow.