This may surprise some, as Abercrombie hasn’t supported my every campaign and we don’t agree on all issues. But the choice for us all in that primary, between Abercrombie and Mufi Hannemann, is about far more than anything like that: it’s about what Hawai‘i we want.
I’ve known and worked with Abercrombie for over two decades, including four good years together as Hawai‘i’s Congressmen. Throughout a two-decade congressional career, Neil was an effective advocate for Hawai‘i in both Republican and Democratic administrations and majorities, was responsible for crucial defense and other federal budgets, and always took care of the folks back home. Throughout, he’s been deeply committed to Hawai‘i, independent in thought and action, capable of defending what should be preserved and changing what should not, and passionate about making our government work for all. In experience, character, perspective and commitment, he would serve us well as our Governor.
I’ve known and worked with Hannemann for the same period, and once saw him as a leader for Hawai‘i today and tomorrow. 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 longterm solutions. All spin aside, none of that would serve us well as our Governor.
I want a Hawai‘i of inclusion. Of honest and accessible government for all. A government committed to both preserving our soul and finding better ways to a better future. And I want leaders I can trust to get us there. At the end of the day, after everything else is considered and all the shouting is pau, I simply trust Neil Abercrombie and don’t trust Mufi Hannemann.
A final thought. Some are undecided today among Abercrombie, Hannemann and Duke Aiona, or are supportive of Aiona. Abercrombie and Aiona differ on various issues, but they’re both honest, independent, experienced candidates capable of governing competently and inclusively. It would be a singular achievement for us all to vote in the Democratic primary to reject the brand of fear-based exclusionary machine politics practiced by Hannemann, and to then each and all make an issues-based choice between Abercrombie and Aiona in the general election.
Ed Case is a former congressman (2002-2007) and former Hawaii state lawmaker.