It’s Too Early To Pick Neil Or Mufi

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - September 09, 2009

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s gubernatorial campaign office released another poll last week. It showed Abercrombie leading Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the race for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor by a 48-36 percent margin.

In the SMS Research poll, 5 percent of the 700 folks asked said, “I won’t vote for either one of those lowdown scoundrels.” Or something to that effect.

Twelve percent said, “I don’t know how I’m going to vote,” or “It’s none of your damned business!”

I will not comment on the 5 percent who would have none of either the congressman or the mayor. I like both men and think both of them tolerably prepared to be governor. But I will venture that the 12 percent who said, “I don’t know” or “It’s none of your damned business!” constitute the smartest of the 700 respondents.

After all, not an advertisement has been run, not a speech has been made, not a debate has been held, not a mailer has been sent out on the issues that will face the governor beginning in late 2010. Not one.

Few of the 700, for example, have a clue how Abercrombie or Hannemann would deal with the state’s enormous budget deficit - a deficit estimated by the Council on Revenues to be $90 million more than it was the last time its members studied the numbers.

Oh, wait. Wait. Of course they do. Neither of them, in Democrats’ eyes, will be as mean and heartless as that terrible Linda Lingle, who would furlough unionized state workers and cut their salaries.

Then how does each propose to deal with all that red ink, or with cash-strapped public schools, or with shorter hours and proposed library closings around the state, or, while administrators and faculty are being trimmed, with record enrollments at every University of Hawaii campus, or with disappearing agricultural lands, or with the state’s continued, almost total dependence on imported oil, or with our one-industry state economy - an industry dependent on the price of jet fuel?

Come on. We don’t know. SMS talked to 84 intelligent Democrats. They all said no, or they didn’t say. The other 616? Fools, if you ask me (which, of course, you didn’t).

What we have here is a political game of chicken between Abercrombie and Hannemann.

Hannemann’s trying to frighten Abercrombie with cash: $1.7 million of it as of the end of June. Abercrombie, after his request to use $900,000 from his congressional campaign fund was rejected by the Campaign Spending Committee last month, has approximately $400,000 on hand.

In turn, Abercrombie is trying to sell Hannemann, potential campaign donors and fellow Democrats on the idea that the mayor can’t beat him. The 1st District congressman has announced the results of two polls: a mid-June Daily Kos survey that showed him with a 20-point lead over the mayor (42-22, 36 undecided) and his recent 12 percentage-point lead.

I’ve heard some say definitively that the mayor will blink and stay in Honolulu Hale. I’ve heard others say, just as definitively, that the congressman will blink and stay in Washington.

SMS Research found that 49 percent of those polled thought that Hannemann should stay on as mayor, 33 percent that he should resign and run for governor. The pollsters found that 39 percent of the respondents felt Abercrombie should remain in Washington as the 1st District’s congressman, 46 percent that he should come back to Hawaii and run for governor.

SMS didn’t ask my opinion, but I’m offering it to one and all. I think the mayor should stay on as mayor. He’s been a good one, and he has a mass transit system to build.

And the good congressman should remain in Washington, where he should use his seniority and wisdom to support an embattled president from Hawaii.

There. Add my name to the list of fools.

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