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Editorial | On Politics

Change is the last thing our incumbents want

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This is the time of the year when normal people are thinking of vacations, BBQ and beach weekends.

For the boys and girls in the smoke-filled backrooms, this is the time to be thinking of polls.

While normal folks puzzle out when to apply SPF 50, politicians and their retinues are dialing down the margin of error on their surveys to make sure they know what you are thinking and hoping.

When their rhetoric matches your dreams, the fall elections are in the bag.

So what are you thinking?

"I have never seen such a grumpy electorate," says one politician, given anonymity so he would speak freely about his poll.

"The Legislature is about as popular as BP; everybody is angry," he reports.

The reason is that government is not delivering, according to this usually successful politician.

The months of outrage over furloughing public school teachers have not died down; instead it just adds to the bitterness toward government.

The layoffs around the state are continuing, and there is no real sense that Hawaii has moved the needle toward creating more work for its people.

The other item worth noting is that the anger is not limited to one group; it is across the board. It is not just Republicans or Democrats or mainlanders, or public school graduates or neighbor islanders or just the folks living in Makawao – everybody is seething.

At the same time that voters are on the verge of biting the heads off chickens, they are likely to be presented with a list of insipid candidates you already know: the incumbents.

As of the Thursday notice from the state Office of Elections, eight Senate seats and 23 House openings have no general election opposition. Almost all of the seats that are unchallenged are because there is no GOP candidate.

If incumbents have a full set of built-in advantages, none rises as high as the free pass of simply not having anyone run against you.

If this were the year when furious voters tossed out the rascals, the vote would be as easy to explain as counting the number of Furlough Fridays that shut the public schools. This is the year when your entire campaign strategy need not be any more complicated than, "I’m not one of those guys."

Two years ago the GOP had just seven running for 12 Senate seats, and 28 in the 51-member House. It won nothing in the Senate and only six in the House.

So while the candidates may be telling you they stand for "hope and change," the incumbents are whispering, "I hope it doesn’t change."

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Reach him at


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