Mayor defends Hannemann endorsement

LIHU‘E — Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. on Friday defended his decision to back former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the contentious Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“First of all, I am a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party and chose to endorse Mufi in the primary election because I know him well as a friend and he has been a champion for all of the counties in the state through our collaboration in the Hawai‘i Council of Mayors,” Carvalho said in an e-mail responding to several questions about his decision to back Hannemann when most other politicians with their own races to run opt not to endorse candidates in other races.

Carvalho did not specifically answer questions about whether or not he would have chosen to endorse a gubernatorial candidate if he had had a stronger challenger in his own race, and if he thinks his choice to back the unsuccessful candidate will hurt him in the general election, by possibly alienating Abercrombie supporters.

“I felt that our strong and positive working relationship (his and Hannemann’s) would translate into great benefits for Kaua‘i down the road” had Hannemann prevailed in the primary, Carvalho said.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a person to ‘sit on the fence’ and not be up-front on any issue that I feel strongly about.

“In the end, Kaua‘i was one of only four districts in the state that Mufi won, and I think that’s a reflection of Kaua‘i’s perception that he is a leader who could do good things for our island,” said Carvalho.

Hannemann outpolled former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie on Kaua‘i by six votes, 7,039 to 7,033, but Abercrombie creamed Hannemann 142,304 to 90,590 statewide, taking 59.3 percent of the vote compared to Hannemann’s 37.7 percent.

There are some in the Democratic Party who feel voters favoring Republican Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona for governor threw their primary votes behind Abercrombie because they saw Hannemann as a stronger challenger to Aiona, the Republican nominee for governor.

Asked if he would endorse any gubernatorial candidate now that Hannemann is out of the race, Carvalho said, “As for further endorsements, I’m not prepared to do so at this time but may at a later date.”

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