Monday, November 30, 2015         


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Abercrombie seems slow to get off the mark

By Richard Borreca


If Neil Abercrombie loses the 2010 race for governor to Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, I have 12 reasons why.

The 12 days that Abercrombie had gone without a coherent advertising presence could be critical in this general election sprint.

Although the election is still 30 days out, the absentee ballots are supposed to start hitting mail boxes next week. And while 30 days may be two lifetimes in political events, if you are not already executing a well-researched and properly funded campaign, 30 days is not long enough to jam one together.

Abercrombie has confidently said that in 40 years of elections, "I have constantly been underestimated."

This year there may be this question: Is Abercrombie underestimating the GOP?

Judging by Hawaii political history it would easy to discount a challenge by two relatively inexperienced Republicans. Aiona's biggest solo victory was by getting 35,422 votes to Dalton Tanonaka's 27,142 votes in the 2002 GOP primary. Aiona, of course, handily won his primary this year, but against token opposition. And the GOP lieutenant governor candidate, state Rep. Lynn Finnegan, has never been in a statewide campaign.

This year's Republican pair, however, is an attractive, well-financed team. They have been raising money and the national GOP is willing to help raise even more. Also, while Gov. Linda Lingle may be a lame duck, she adds a strong following to the Aiona side.

So far neither Abercrombie nor his lieutenant governor candidate Brian Schatz have draped any of the controversies or failures of the Lingle administration on Aiona.

Instead it seems that the pummeling Abercrombie gave former Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the primary was the only victory needed. In fairness, Abercrombie took some time off to recharge after defeating Hannemann, but there was also no sign of a Schatz campaign ready to go. In comparison, the Republican Governors Association has been flooding prime-time television with "Rise and Shine" for Aiona ads.

Commenting on his come-from-behind win in 1998 over Linda Lingle, former Gov. Ben Cayetano wrote that Lingle caused her own defeat by failing to prepare for her debates, canceling her TV ads and "committing one of the biggest sins in political campaigning -- underestimating your opponent."

During the primary, Abercrombie was fond of saying, "You have to win your division before you can play in the championship."

Well, he won the league with nearly 60 percent of the vote, but the Super Bowl started two weeks ago and he has yet to score.

Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at


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