The state Office of Elections’ list of candidates for the 2014 election lists 12 individuals running for governor. Looking over the names, we find three Democrats, two Republicans, one Libertarian, one Indpendent and four Non-Partisans. Ten of them hail from Oahu, and the remaining two list Hawaii Island as their home. The first to file was Khis Dejean Caldwell, a non-partisan in Honolulu, way back on Feb. 7, just four days after the filing period opened. The last to fill out the requisite paperwork was Mufi Hannemann, running this time around as an independent. He waited until June 3–the deadline–to make his wants official.
There may be a dozen names on the list, but it’s the three biggest names on the list that interest me the most: incumbent Democrat Neil Abercrombie, Republican James “Duke” Aiona and Hannemann. If the people of Hawaii ever call for a Mount Rushmore of Ineptitude, those three could provide 75 percent of the visages.
Let’s start with Abercrombie. While not a particularly bad governor (he did push for the state Legislature to finally legalize same-sex marriage), he’s also not a popular one. After a few decades as a back-bencher in the U.S. House of Representatives, Abercrombie overwhelmingly won election back in 2010. But voters have soured on him since then.
A Civil Beat poll from February puts his approval rating at just 42 percent, while 46 percent of those poll disapprove of what he’s done. In fact, that same poll showed that in a match-up with virtually unknown state Senator David Ige, voters were split evenly between the two Democrats.
Then there’s Republican Aiona–the man Abercrombie trounced in 2010 by nearly 18 percentage points. The right-wing Aiona spent eight years as Governor Linda Lingle’s Lt. Governor, but never built a constituency of his own. Since his 2010 loss he’s worked as a private attorney and substitute teacher.
Which is more than Hannemann’s done since he resigned the Honolulu mayorship in 2010. Running for governor that year, he lost to Abercrombie in the primary by nearly 21 percentage points. Two years later, he ran U.S. Congress seat representing the Second District, but lost to newcomer Tulsi Gabbard in the primary by more than 20 percentage points.
Still, Hannemann has serious name recognition, and he’s already secured the endorsement of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), which has pretty much always endorsed Hannemann (like Aiona, they also vehemently oppose same-sex marriage).
The primary election takes place Aug. 9. Sometimes tells me it’s going to be a rough ride to get there.
Photo of Mufi Hannemann: US Navy/Wikimedia Commons