by Andrew Walden
The Democratic Gubernatorial Primary race? “It’s war” according to Abercrombie-backer, East Hawaii ward heeler George Yokoyama.
Neil Abercrombie agrees. And he predicts that Republican Lt Governor Duke Aiona will win as a result. Today’s Washington Post explains:
Abercrombie draws parallels between this year's contest and a 1986 House race that he lost to Hannemann, who ran a negative campaign depicting Abercrombie as a weed-toking hippy from the mainland. That bitterness made an opening for a Republican to take the seat. "Now he is doing the same thing and it's going to have the same kind of result," Abercrombie said, adding, "He hasn't changed and people recognize that."
In other words, just as the 1986 Hannemann-Abercrombie battle led to a General Election victory for Republican Pat Saiki, the 2010 Hannemann-Abercrombie battle will lead to a General Election victory for Republican Duke Aiona.
There have been other surprises this season. Even with Ed Case’s favorite uncle Dan H Case as a minority owner of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the paper’s editors endorsed Hannemann. Abercrombie starts to tell the Washington Post what he thinks about them:
"The sniveling -- " he started saying about the paper, as his press aide, Jim McCoy, gestured for him to tone it down. "Well. You know."
There is sniveling going on at Big Island ILWU headquarters, too. Yesterday’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports:
It's "sad" that the party lacks a system to prevent Democrats from tying to knock each other off in the primary, said Richard Baker, Hawaii Island Division director for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Baker said the split between the Hannemann and Abercrombie camps is the greatest he's seen among Democratic rivals.
It's engulfed the ILWU, which is endorsing Hannemann even though two of Baker's predecessors, Yoshito Takamine and Eusebio "Bobo" Lapenia Jr., broke ranks and are openly backing Abercrombie.
"They chose that, and they resigned their titles to do it," Baker said of breaking ranks to support a candidate the union opposes.
It's happened before, but "we've never gone public," he said.
"That's why I'm of a heavy heart because (Takamine and Lapenia) have always educated us not to do what they have done," Baker said.
Both Abercrombie and Hannemann are posturing vigorously to paint themselves as being close to Barack Obama and Dan Inouye as possible. Both Obama and Inouye are formally neutral. But in reality Obama is backing Abercrombie and Inouye is behind Hannemann. As the Washington Post explains:
The president has not gotten involved in the race, but his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is a good friend of Abercrombie's wife and a vocal supporter of the campaign….
During the Obamas' vacation to Hawaii early this year, Hannemann made national news by exchanging tense words with the president's staff when he and another city official were prevented from greeting Obama as he snorkeled at Hanauma Bay….
The Abercrombie campaign has not denied reports that Abercrombie’s wife Nancie Caraway has been a national leader of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group to which Obama was closely tied as he climbed Chicago’s political ladder.
Inouye and the HGEA backed Hillary Clinton over Hawaii’s native son in the February, 2008 Hawaii Democratic caucuses. They were trounced by a three-to-one margin as 40,000 Democrats showed up to take part in the usually sleepy caucuses. To the Washington Post, Inouye minces no words:
…it was clear from the beginning which candidate had the backing of the state's resident political king, senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and his political machine.
"I have my personal preferences," said Inouye, who added in an interview that Hannemann was a familiar presence in his office over the years and was "in a way" family. "I just don't ignore friends," the 86-year-old eminence said. As for all the years he worked with Abercrombie in Washington, Inouye said that the two were essentially strangers. "
As State Democratic Chair Dante Carpenter tells the Tribune-Herald:
“…they really kind of tough it out and kind of make it tough for each other at the same time, maybe unnecessarily so, but that's the way it goes. I don't think it ever gets healed over."