BY LARRY FENTON –The big debate is over between Mufi and Neil.  I have never before seen this much disunity among Democrats. 

I watched in awe as the story about Ed Case unfolded concerning his opposition to the candidacy of Mufi Hannemann.  I had been upset with Ed Case for a long time for not dropping out of the race for Congress sooner vs. Colleen Hanabusa and Djou. 

I was already upset with Neil Abercrombie for giving up his job and seniority in Congress.  Then we had a chance to get the seat back in Democratic hands but Ed Case wouldn’t let it go.  Polls showed him in the lead for the special election, but it was clear Democrats were setting themselves up for a loss by having two prominent Democrats going for the same seat vs. one prominent Republican.

Then, Mufi wouldn’t finish his elected term as Mayor.  That’s old news.  We lost the seat in Congress, there’s a special election for Mayor, and now the primary is here. 

Debate after debate between Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie had not yet made it easy for me to decide who to vote for. 

I had started my candidacy by going door to door in my neighborhood with Mufi pamphlets and getting signatures in my run for city council.  My union (Ironworkers) had endorsed Mufi.

As time went on I visited Mufi headquarters near my place to gain support for my run for city council.  It was not forthcoming.  Instead, I felt confronted by Mufi’s campaign manager, Dean, who suggested I speak with Mufi personally before continuing on my joint campaign activity.

It was not my first experience at feeling excluded from Mufi’s campaign.  I thought at the time this sure was a foolish way to conduct a campaign for Governor– offend those who are willing to help.  

I had advocated for Mufi at Democratic HQ at a meeting with Progressive Democrats even though they had already endorsed Neil Abercrombie.

What was it like to volunteer for Mufi?  Well, no return help, no respect, and no consideration.  So I decided that endorsing either candidate was a minefield of trouble.  I would stay neutral in the race, after all. 

These two are big boys now.  They know how to campaign without my help I reasoned.  I could sit back and wait until after the primary to write this but that wouldn’t be courageous. 

A recent campaign event where Mufi couldn’t stop talking about how tall he is and trying to rally the crowd to clap for him met with less than lackluster response makes it clear.  For being a Harvard graduate he sure runs a simple minded message.  I am tall, he is short.  Vote for me because I am tall, he is short, etc…  I am native Hawaiian, he is haole.  Mufi – “I look like you, you look like me” (speech to carpenters union). 

I don’t believe I would feel comfortable in a Hawaii with someone so arrogant and simple minded as Mufi in the powerful position of Governor. 

I’ve now seen evidence of the political machine Ed Case refers to in his condemnation of Mufi – “But, as I’ve watched him in public office, I’ve come to view him as the most dangerous politician in a generation, because his talents mask an agenda which, if successful, will set Hawai‘i back a generation. He is the product and clear choice of a political machine that must end. While professing unity, he’s practiced the politics of division, exploiting rather than healing differences of race, origin and economic status. He has governed by fear and intimidation, rewarding compliance and punishing disagreement. His policy decisions have too often focused on short-term avoidance at the expense of long term solutions. All spin aside, none of that would serve us well as our Governor.”

Although I don’t really know Ed Case, what he has said about Mufi has turned out to be true from my perspective. 

Mufi also publicly stated that he had missed the endorsement of the teachers union by one vote.  The teachers union later said that they had overwhelmingly endorsed Neil. 

Mufi is like a broken record when it comes to blaming others for the faults of government, like the unexpected tax bills for Kalihi residents.  He’s quick to blame others for mistakes, but take the credit when things go right.  The recent Fasi commercial endorsing Mufi says he has “passion for the little guy.”

Just like BP cared about all us “little people”, right?  

While the result of the Mayor’s race and the 1st Congressional seat remains in limbo, I have decided to no longer to remain neutral at this critical time.  Let’s put an end to the arrogant and exclusive style political machine.  

 I support Neil Abercrombie for Governor.      

 Larry Fenton is a City Council Candidate in District 6. He may be contacted at LFenton@hawaii.rr.com

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