Mufi’s Playing It Coy With Neil

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 24, 2010

Let there be no mistake. Mayor Mufi Hannemann is a candidate for governor. Of course, he doesn’t have to officially announce or resign from his office ... yet.

But in order to collect campaign money, he must declare his intended office and, lo and behold, it’s for governor. Hmmm ... rallies, public appearances, fundraising.

Raise your hands, all who think this doesn’t look like a run for governor.

This seems to be driving his declared and prospective opponents batty. U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who has announced his candidacy and will resign his office by the end of this month, is appearing to be the more stand-up guy in this heads-up race. Yes, it’s true the mayor is well within the letter of the law, but he may deserve some arrows for bruising the spirit of the law.

I mean, you’ve gotta give Neil credit. He said he’d run and said he’d step down. Check and check.


The mayor is playing coy. Some would call this a shrewd political move while others might say it’s pure manipulation of the process. Either way, Hannemann, the consummate politician, does have his opponents (and voters) off-balance.

The 500-pound gorilla in the room - or rather, elephant - belongs to the state GOP and its efforts to stock the state Legislature with more Republicans. As of now, there are but six GOP representatives and two senators. Sen. Fred Hemmings has announced he will not seek re-election, and his departure leaves veteran lawmaker Sen. Sam Slom as potentially the lone Republican voice in the state Senate. That is, of course, if he retains his seat in 2010. Here is some disclosure: Slom is a personal friend of mine and I have known him longer than most. He has been a guest on my radio program for years, and currently appears each week with Senate president Colleen Hanabusa in a segment called The Good Senators. I would say that I am a good friend of Colleen, too, but I don’t want to sully her stellar reputation.

All kidding aside, the GOP has a daunting task ahead. It is reported that former HPD Chief Boise Correa is eyeing a run against Slom in the 8th Senatorial District, and he is a formidable candidate. But so was Donna Ikeda in 1996. She was the Democrat incumbent, chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the inner-circle of most influential Democrats. But Slom prevailed nonetheless and has retained his seat ever since. But if Correa is successful and no other Republicans are elected, you will see zero GOP representation in the Senate. Couple this with the loss of even one seat in the House of Representatives and it could spell disaster for the GOP.

State Republican chairman Jonah Ka’auwai is a fine, energetic and dynamic leader. He certainly doesn’t need any advice from me. But I would hope the GOP will present a specific, defined, point-by-point message to voters not only identifying our current challenges, but also providing alternatives and solutions.

It’s one thing to point the finger and say someone is doing a crummy job. You have to have a plan to do it better. If the local GOP can similarly define itself as those in other states have done, there is no reason Republican victories can’t be a reality in Hawaii, too.

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