By Andrew Walden
Hawaii Democrats are continuing to position themselves to blame the other for killing rail—a sure sign that the project is in deep trouble.
Two weeks ago, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie complained that Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was personally phoning Abercrombie’s contributors to intimidate them.
Today, accepting the endorsement of the IBEW, Abercrombie‘s campaign distributed several talking points to the media. His focus is on trying to knock his Democratic Primary challenger out of the race. Verbatim:
- Neil Abercrombie will be speaking at 1pm at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Locals 1186, 1260 and 1357 announced their endorsement of Abercrombie as a candidate for governor on Monday.
- Abercrombie will be reiterating his support for rail transit for Honolulu. And he will say that, when elected governor, he plans to continue to partner with the Mayor of Honolulu to see the project through. But he will also make clear that Honolulu's rail transit project is a project of the City & County of Honolulu led by whoever is the mayor. It is not a project that will be implemented by the next Governor of the state.
- The timetable for rail to continues to move into the future and there is much uncertainty that now appears unlikely to be resolved before Mayor Hannemann has to resign if he wants to run for Governor. Abercrombie will say that if Mayor Hannemann resigns as Mayor to run for Governor while the future of rail hangs in the balance, the rail project will be put at risk.
- Abercrombie will ask the people of Hawaii to consider the following as residents and taxpayers: this transit project is by far the most significant and expensive project in the history of Hawaii—costing well over $5 billion to build and millions annually to operate; should Mayor Hannemann resign from office, there will be a special election to elect a new mayor who may not have the ability or desire to see this project through (there will also be four new members elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010); and rail will alter the landscape of Oahu and the economy of this state for many generations to come.
- Even if the rail project clears the EIS hurdle, it will still take time for the City and County of Honolulu to get rail project off to a successful start. Abercrombie and many other rail supporters in the community—including the IBEW—believe that it is in the public’s best interest for the Mayor to stay in his current office to get this critical project off to a proper start.
Abercrombie drew a response from GOP Chair Jonah Kaauwai and Lt Governor Duke Aiona. Both papers obediently toeing the old boy line, the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin barely mentioned Abercrombie’s IBEW news conference and completely ignored Aiona and Kaauwai’s responses. Instead their focus is on the ILWU endorsement of Hannemann. How predictable. Fortunately they are merging, so we no longer need pretend that there are two newspapers.
SPECIAL INTERESTS’ ENDORSEMENTS COST THE PEOPLE OF HAWAI’I
HONOLULU—Hawai'i Republican Party Chairman Jonah Ka'auwai commented today on the union endorsements received by gubernatorial candidate former Rep. Neil Abercrombie and expected gubernatorial candidate Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann:
“The people of Hawai'i pay for these special interest endorsements; they do not come free. Union-endorsed candidates are beholden to the agenda of special interests rather than the interest of the people.
“Public offices belong to the people, not to special interests or union bosses. Governor Linda Lingle and Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, who won every district in the state, and our Republican candidates this year, will continue to work hard to earn the endorsement of the people of Hawai’i.”
DUKE AIONA ISSUES STATEMENT ON UNION ENDORSEMENTS
HONOLULU - Lt. Governor Duke Aiona today issued the following statement regarding the union endorsements received by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former Rep. Neil Abercrombie:
"Union members will make up their own mind as to which candidate best reflects their values, and many throughout the state have already joined our growing campaign.
"Our campaign's strength is based on statewide grassroots support because it is only through our working families and small businesses that we will bring balance, integrity and good judgment to state government."
ADV: ILWU endorses Honolulu mayor
SB: Hannemann steps closer to entering governor's race (Mufi gets ILWU endorsement)
Asked what the ILWU would do if Hannemann didn't run, Isaac started to answer but Hannemann jumped in and said, "They won't have to answer that question."
State law requires official candidates for office to resign if they hold office and Hannemann has said he doesn't want to resign too early and force the city to hold a special election for a successor.
If Hannemann resigned close to the July 20 filing deadline, the special election would be held in conjunction with the September primary election.
Hannemann would face former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who resigned last month, for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona is considered the front-runner.