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Hannemann defends against attacks from Case

By Herbert A. Sample

Associated Press


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann yesterday slammed scathing criticism from former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who endorsed Hannemann's chief rival, Neil Abercrombie, over the weekend.

The exchange of statements from the three high-profile Hawaii Democrats turned up the temperature on an already sizzling contest for the party's Sept. 18 gubernatorial primary between Hannemann and Abercrombie.

It came three days after Abercrombie, a former Hawaii congressman, and Hannemann, a former Honolulu mayor, met in a barb-filled debate hosted by KHON-TV, and the day after a poll showed Abercrombie holding a tiny lead.

In e-mails sent Saturday, Case endorsed Abercrombie as an effective advocate for the state during Abercrombie's nearly 20 years in Congress, and an independent thinker who wants government to work. Case said his e-mail list, tallied over the last decade, numbers in the tens of thousands.

"In experience, character, perspective and commitment, he would serve us well as our governor," wrote Case, who in May dropped out of next month's Democratic primary for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District seat.

Case went further, calling Hannemann the "most dangerous politician in a generation." He accused Hannemann of being the "clear choice of a political machine that must end," though Case did not elaborate on the allegation.

"While professing unity, he's practiced the politics of division, exploiting rather than healing differences of race, origin and economic status," Case added, referring in part to a much-criticized flier Hannemann's campaign mailed recently and for which Hannemann apologized at the top of Friday's debate.

Case's remarks generated a stern response from Hannemann spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka.

"This is negative campaigning at its worst," she said. "Case's hateful e-mail assassinates the character of Mufi Hannemann with accusations that are completely devoid of any facts."

Abercrombie, she added, "has consistently accused us of negative campaigning, yet he accepts the endorsement and apparently condones the negative messages being sent out by Ed Case."

Asked for a response, Case said in a statement, "Hannemann's character to lead is a central issue because we want leaders we can trust; that's fair game in any campaign."

Abercrombie has lauded Case's endorsement. Yesterday he dismissed Hannemann's complaints, saying in a statement, "Ed Case is an independent person and free to speak his mind."

The winner of the Democratic primary will face the likely Republican nominee, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

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