The two Democratic rivals for governor sparred over their political ads Thursday as the likely Republican nominee touted the assistance he is getting from GOP governors on the mainland.
The campaign of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Democrat, blasted a radio ad by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie that criticizes Hannemann’s work on his signature project, the city’s planned 20-mile-long commuter rail system.
In the ad, Abercrombie accuses Hannemann of using the rail project for political purposes.
That explains, the former congressman asserted in the ad, why there was a controversy earlier this year about the project’s proximity to a Honolulu airport runway and why the system will not initially extend to Waikiki or the University of Hawaii.
"There’s no other way to look at it," Abercrombie said in the ad, which has been airing at least since July 20. "Instead of having a transit timetable, we’ve had a political timetable."
Hannemann spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said in a statement that Abercrombie’s ad is an "irresponsible personal attack on Mufi Hannemann and is without any basis in fact."
Abercrombie as a congressman was fully apprised through several years of the project’s timetable, funding and route, she added.
"Neil’s rhetorical ‘shock’ over these issues is disingenuous," Tanaka said.
Laurie Au, a spokeswoman for Abercrombie, said the ad reflects what residents have told the candidate.
"The people of Hawaii, whether they are for or against rail, now have legitimate concerns about its future," she said in a statement. "Mufi Hannemann calls the ad a ‘personal attack’ because he has treated rail like a personal project instead of the important public project that it is."
Hannemann’s complaints Thursday about Abercrombie’s ad was a mirror image of Wednesday, when Abercrombie enlisted U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to rebut a Hannemann ad criticizing his rival’s performance in Congress.
As the Democrats were cat-fighting, the probable GOP gubernatorial nominee, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, trumpeted more positive television and radio ads being aired on his behalf by the Republican Governors Association.
"Duke’s ideas would lead to safer communities, meaningful sentencing and tough penalties for the worst offenders," an announcer said in the ad. "His ideas saved lives."
Aiona faces a tough Nov. 2 battle against either Abercrombie or Hannemann in what has been a Democrat-dominated state. But a spokesman for the governors association, Tim Murtaugh, said this year looks different.
"The RGA doesn’t spend ‘goodwill money’ to make ourselves or candidates feel good," he said. "We only do it where we think we can make a difference. In this case, we think Duke Aiona is the best candidate and can win."
The other eight candidates for governor in the Sept. 18 primary election are not expected to be mount substantial media campaigns because of limited funding.
Also running are Democrats Art Reyes, Miles Shiratori and Van Tanabe; Republican John Carroll; Free Energy party candidate Daniel Cunningham; and nonpartisan candidates Tony Clapes, Paul Manner and Tom Pollard.