After four years of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's shoot-from-the-hip leadership style, Democrats in the state Legislature are now expecting David Ige to be a governor who reaches for the conference call before the sound bite.
Legacies all come down to the bottom line. In reviewing the four-year administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, weigh it in terms of predecessors: Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee, Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle.
Just watching McKinley High School and University of Hawaii graduate Tammy Duckworth walk into a room leaves you in awe. It was just 10 years ago that a rocket-propelled grenade fired by insurgents north of Baghdad tore into a Black Hawk helicopter, with then-National Guard Capt. Duckworth sitting in the right pilot's seat.
One year has passed since Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage. The state Capitol is still standing, few are saying "we warned you," and most politicians who voted both for and against same-sex marriage are back.
On Dec. 1, Gov.-elect David Ige will take the oath of office and become Hawaii's eighth governor. The Pearl City Democrat spent a half hour talking in detail to Star-Advertiser political columnist Richard Borreca about the campaign and his plans for the state.
What can you say about an election that nobody cared about? Yes, for those tracking elections and backing candidates, Campaign 2014 was fascinating -- but for most people in Hawaii, it was not even a big yawn.
Tuesday's election will start to show the transition of the generations, from boomers to millennials. Baby boomers, considered the dominant and most powerful generational group in politics, is giving way to an even larger demographic: boomers' kids, the millennial generation.
Oddly enough, the defining issue of this campaign season is something we don't do: tax pensions. The federal government taxes pensions, 40 states tax pensions, and while Hawaii's general excise tax gets a piece of the action every time money changes hands, we do not tax pensions.
It was October 2011 and Gov. Neil Abercrombie's chief of staff and communications director, as well as their deputies, had resigned, when a national political polling firm rated the long-serving Democrat as the least popular governor in the United States.
Tie-tie. Is that really the race for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District with 10 days to go before Election Day? The new Hawaii Poll shows state Rep. Mark Takai, a Pearl City Democrat, and former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, a Republican and former Hawaii Kai Councilman, knotted at 47 percent, with 7 percent undecided.
It appears the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission could devote some of Wednesday to chewing on the Pacific Resource Partnership, which, because of the money it flings around, is one of our most influential political players.
Political races always come down to turning out your voters. The difference this year is finding a way to first fire them up. Republicans and Democrats appear to be marching into the closing days of the race for governor with much of the same game plans that have brought Democrats success and Republicans defeat in past years.
In a historic year that saw the unheard of defeat of a sitting Democratic governor in a Hawaii primary and now features more than a dozen debates and forums in the general election, there is still fuzziness about this year's contest.
You have to go back 20 years to find a Hawaii race for governor as dicey as the upcoming contest next month. Back in 1994, there were three major combatants: the Democratic lieutenant governor, Ben Cayetano; the Republican, former U.S. Rep. Pat Saiki; and the newly minted independent, Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.
Once again the Hono-lulu City Council is the proving ground for lousy ethics. Today's culprit is state Rep. Romy Cachola, 76, who had served 16 years in the state House, 10 years on the Honolulu City Council and was re-elected to the House from Kalihi-Kai in 2010.
Here is state Sen. David Ige's plan to become governor: He wants to have a chat with you. There are no plans to raise $2 million, nothing about getting the fastest-talking, most-savvy mainland political whiz, and nothing in the daily planner about winning each news cycle.
The race for governor is confounding because of a number: 157,000. Politicians run with their heart, but in the background there is also a spreadsheet running, calculating and recalculating what you need to win.
Bob Awana is back in politics. The long-serving Linda Lingle adviser, called by the former GOP governor as her "campaign adviser for life," is working on the gubernatorial campaign of former GOP Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.
It was Bob Oshiro, the late Democratic Party guru, who explained how to do the math in an election. "You win elections by addition, not subtraction," Oshiro, who ran five winning governors' races, would say.
Endings rarely go well in politics. State funerals and crushing defeats end political careers in ways filled with bad feelings. It is best to leave a winner. "Graceful exiters are highly motivated," Hawaii's own David Heenan writes in his book, "Leaving on Top, Graceful Exits for Leaders."
Republicans are firming up a public strategy to use in the race for governor.
The historic rejection of Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie by fellow Democrats in the primary election empowers the GOP to argue for its candidate, former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.
Layoffs are coming next week for some of the state's public employees because it doesn't have enough money to pay them. On Aug. 22, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. wrote its 4,000 employees explaining that it would "implement a systemwide reduction in force."
First it was all Dwayne Yoshina's fault that Hawaii's elections ran poorly. Back in 1998, politicians ranging from Colleen Hanabusa to Linda Lingle so howled at Yoshina's performance that the 1998 election was recounted, all 412,000 ballots.
David Lassner's $375,000 annual salary is a lot of public money -- but consider that on a good day, being university president fulfills the definition of being pecked to death by ducks, and on a bad day, it is more like living in a cage with a hundred weasels.
The high-profile debate about genetically modified food is not showing up as much as a political cause at the polls. Most of the Hawaii candidates who opposed GMO food or supported GMO labeling did not do well in the Aug. 9 primary election.
From the rear-view mirror of the Abercrombie behemoth, David Ige must have looked like a joke. The 57-year-old Pearl City Democrat was just barely there. Where were Ige's principled stands, his fiery oratory and undying ability to outshout everyone in the house?
An Abercrombie victory or Ige win in Hawaii's race for governor is going to be just half of the story. Although this column was written before Saturday's Democratic primary, part of the outcome is already known.
As we hunker down for whatever Iselle and Julio fling our way, consider this a teachable moment.
Not so much for hurricane readiness, because the long lines at Costco for SPAM, bottled water and gas already show how we did in the preparation department.
For Gov. Neil Abercrombie, his looming defeat in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary would be historic; for state Sen. David Ige, his selection as the Democrats' candidate for the November general election would be nothing short of miraculous.
All across the state, the people are starting to speak. The mail-in ballots are pouring in and voters are walking into absentee polling centers. I visited the Kapolei Hale and Honolulu Hale absentee centers this week.
When political races get close in Hawaii, the big question turns to how the neighbor islands will vote. Oahu may have the most voters, but if candidates are running even in Honolulu, then the balance can tip with the decisions of folks on Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island.
If you insist on walking into an actual polling booth for this primary election, Monday is your first chance, as that's when absentee voting starts. If you are a permanent absentee voter, your ballot should be on your kitchen table ready to fill out.
When he was in the state Senate, Ben Cayetano introduced legislation to abolish the office of lieutenant governor, saying it was useless. And that was back when the office had more duties than presiding over name changes.
Patsy Mink is in it representing the 2nd Congressional District. Neil Abercrombie, with shoulder-length dark brown hair, is representing the 1st, and Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye are beaming, looking marvelous. Peering over President Bill Clinton's shoulder is Al Gore, then vice president.
A punching bag is a suspended stuffed bag that is punched for exercise. A political punching bag is pummeled during election years by politicians to impress voters. The health of Hawaii's state budget is one of the most accessible political punching bags around.
Somehow the Hawaii political scene has reinvented itself with the same cast of characters. It was just four years ago that Neil Abercrombie, Mufi Hannemann and James "Duke" Aiona were running for governor.
Happy Fourth of July. What better way to celebrate America's independence than by checking up on how we are doing with this democracy thing. There is some good news because of a decade-long effort by the League of Women Voters to get same-day voter registration.
Abercrombie to Ige: "Get a mirror." That was the take-away sound bite from last week's Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii forum featuring Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige.
To learn the dynamic of the Democratic primary race for governor between state Sen. David Ige and Gov. Neil Abercrombie, I asked an Abercrombie supporter and an Ige backer what each saw at this week's Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii forum.
Colleen Hanabusa keeps her vocabulary regarding Iraq to one word: "No."
Since 2002, the Oahu Democrat has opposed U.S. intervention in Iraq. Her position echoes the stance by Hawaii's 2002 congressional delegation, which back then voted against going to war.
Not since the long-stalled "Akaka Bill" was batted around in Honolulu in 2000 has there been a serious attempt for an arm of the federal government to come here to listen to the debate on Native Hawaiian recognition.
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano is one who savors getting the last word. His 560-page autobiography, besides being a good read, is a long study in the feisty Democrat having the final say on countless political fights and grudge matches.
It was the geekiest political crisis of the year. The state Constitution requires that a law be passed every year authorizing the state to sell bonds and the state can only sell bonds up to the limit authorized.
One of the reasons Neil Abercrombie is governor is his early, enthusiastic embrace of social media. From announcing his campaign via Twitter to posts on Facebook and YouTube, Abercrombie's campaign was always in the moment.
When Oliver Lee was 39, he was easily the most controversial man in Honolulu.
Because of him in 1968, more than 130 Honolulu police swooped down on to Bachman Hall to arrest 152 students and professors protesting the Vietnam War and Lee's denial of tenure.
Today is expected to be the beginning of a new future for the University of Hawaii, as the most significant educational institution in the state and one of the centers of knowledge in the Pacific gets down to picking a new leader.
Stephanie Ohigashi lives on Maui with three pit bull mix dogs and two cats. Apparently that isn't a complex enough balancing act, because just about two weeks ago, Ohigashi decided to run for chairwoman of the Hawaii Democratic Party.
Something of a political fight is being waged over the state's $12 billion operating budget. This is not unusual — there never is enough money to close the state's open palms, and this is certainly the time of the year when state budget decisions are made.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Abercrombie's recollections of the death of Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and the passing of a letter from Inouye to Abercrombie asking that U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa be appointed to replace him in the Senate.
The Big Island of Hawaii is where you go for earthquakes. With dozens of seismic events registering every week, the island is always shaking. In local politics, the seismic-rich environment is the state Senate.
Hawaii is again showing up as the most mediocre voting state in the country. The latest national report coming this week from the Pew Charitable Trust's Voter Performance Index shows that in 2012 not only were we the least inclined to vote, we were the worst in just registering to vote.
If the news of the day isn't worrisome enough to wipe that grin off your face, how about a poll?
Actually, a new set of polls from Gallup show that Hawaii is moving from sunshine and smiles to being slightly disgruntled.
A lesson learned about Hawaii politics was taught one night back in the 1980s, while I was waiting outside a closed-door legislative meeting. The meeting was supposed to be open, but it wasn't, and as the lawmakers darted out the door I said to one, "Aren't you guys breaking the law?"
Hawaii may be getting more sophisticated, but we are not so blas that we shrug it off when the big dogs come to town. This week we are getting more than enough sniffs from our federal friends from Washington, D.C.
This spring, Hawaii's Democrats will do what they do best: evolve. The party meets in convention May 24 and 25 at the Sheraton Waikiki. There it is expected the Democrats will pick a new party chairman.