by Kasie Hunt, POLITICO
When former Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s (D-Hawaii) campaign for governor was besieged by criticism this week over his congressional record, he went straight to top to find a defender: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
After his opponent in the Sept. 18 primary, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, went up on the radio with an ad slamming the former congressman’s record in Congress, Abercrombie got Pelosi to step in on his behalf.
“For nearly 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Neil Abercrombie distinguished himself as an effective and courageous leader who served the people of Hawaii with distinction and honor,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Neil Abercrombie was an outstanding Member of Congress and he will be an outstanding Governor.”
It’s unusual for the House Speaker to weigh into a contested primary election, particularly for governor in a state far from her own. But Pelosi agreed to offer her support when the Abercrombie camp sought to counter a tough ad that attacked Abercrombie’s attendance record in the House, his March resignation from Congress to run for governor, and calls him a “follower.” (Gee. I wonder where they got THAT idea?)
“His early resignation cost President Obama critical support for healthcare and Wall Street reform,” the ad says. “Neil says to look at his record. We agree.”
“Our campaign reached out to her because she has already expressed support for Neil in the past,” explained Abercrombie campaign spokeswoman Laurie Au.
This wasn’t the first time the Speaker lent a helping hand to her former colleague. Pelosi also held a September fundraiser for him and praised his work in Congress from the House floor on his last day as a member of the chamber.
While Republicans have made Pelosi-bashing a staple of their campaign attacks, for Abercrombie there’s little downside to highlighting her support: Hawaii is one of the most solidly Democratic states in the nation.
Au said the campaign did not factor Pelosi’s public approval ratings into their decision to tout her backing. “When it comes to her public opinion, that wasn’t really a factor.They worked together in the House,” she said. “She can speak with authority when it comes to Neil’s congressional record.”
LINK >>> DISCUSSION
Hawai`i Free Press June 2, 2010: Congress.org: "Abercrombie is a follower"