The race for governor is shaping up, already, to be a doozy.
When Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa on Tuesday announced her campaign to become Hawaii’s next governor, she did not come out simply smiling, shaking hands and politely asking for your vote. She did not praise Ige and thank him for his service. She came out swinging and made it clear she will not be pulling punches on why she, not Gov. David Ige, should be your next leader. Ige, she said, lacks vision and leadership, and is not getting things done.
A few of her comments:
• “I am running for governor because I believe the people of Hawaii deserve better.”
• “We need someone who understands how it can be changed and what needs to be done.”
• “We have the same issues time and time again.”
That was a shot.
• “We cannot wait as more and more of our young people, discouraged by the future they see for themselves here, leave Hawaii in hopes of better opportunities on the mainland.”
Not letting up.
• “I believe we have great reason to be hopeful for our future. I believe it is time — as generations before us have done — to rise again to face the challenge. That requires leadership, a strong vision and, most of all, action.”
That last comment was her nice way of saying the governor’s office is lacking leadership, strong vision and action.
Ige, always polite, responded nicely, saying he welcomes Hanabusa’s entrance into the race.
“The people of Hawaii are always served by choices in leadership,” he said.
“It is one thing to criticize, and it is another to get the people’s business done. I am proud of our record during the last three years. We have made hard decisions, sometimes unpopular decisions, because it was the right thing to do and in the best interests of the people of this state.”
But inside, Ige is likely not delighted that Hanabusa is leaving Congress to go after his job and is already on the attack.
With her background, experience and support, the well-spoken Hanabusa is a strong contender to defeat Ige, who clobbered former Gov. Neil Abercromie and took office in 2014. One wonders if he won’t ramp up attacks as this election process goes on. He must see Hanabusa as someone who is a threat to his reelection.
“I may not be the typical politician, but what we need today is less politics and more hard work,” he said. “The historic firsts coming out of my administration and things I have done since taking office reflects this effort. That is the kind of leadership I believe Hawaii deserves.”
Hanabusa has the tools necessary to do well. As she points out, her leadership experience crosses public and private sectors, as well as state and federal office.
In 2016, she was elected simultaneously as a Democrat to the 114th Congress by special election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of the late Rep. Mark Takai, and to the 115th Congress, where she serves Hawaii’s First Congressional District as a member of House Democratic Leadership and a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Land.
She previously served in Congress for two terms representing the district and as a member of the House Armed Services and Natural Resources committees. In her second term, she was named the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs.
Ige pointed out some of his achievements since taking office.
“Our team has improved our financial standing saving the state hundreds of millions in interest payments and rekindled long-stalled infrastructure projects. I kept my promise to cool schools, protected over 40,000 acres of watershed forests on four islands, and ended favoritism and pay to play cronyism in state government, opening up more contracts to our local small businesses. I am also proud of how my administration has taken on the Trump Administration when they have put Hawaii’s and the nation’s values and rights in jeopardy, doing more than most other governors to fight unfair and discriminatory policies coming out of Congress and the White House.”
This promises to be a terrific battle for governor and we’re just getting started. Stay tuned.