Former U.S. Rep. Ed Case yesterday endorsed former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary for governor, concluding that Abercrombie is independent in thought and action and passionate about making government work for all.
In an e-mail to his supporters, Case said he once saw former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Abercrombie’s opponent, as a future leader for the state but now views him "as the most dangerous politician in a generation."
"He is the product and clear choice of a political machine that must end," Case wrote of the former mayor. "While professing unity, he’s practiced the politics of division, exploiting rather than healing differences of race, origin and economic status. He has governed by fear and intimidation, rewarding compliance and punishing disagreement.
"His policy decisions have too often focused on short-term avoidance at the expense of long-term solutions. All spin aside, none of that would serve us well as our governor."
Case acknowledged that endorsing Abercrombie may be a surprise to some of his supporters, since Abercrombie denounced Case for his primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, in 2006.
Carolyn Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the Hannemann campaign, said Case is entitled to his opinion.
"We put our faith in the voters of Hawaii to see past the inflammatory rhetoric and judge Mufi Hannemann on his record," she said in a statement. "In 2006, Case asked for then-Mayor Hannemann’s endorsement when he ran against Senator Akaka. He did not get it. One has to wonder if Ed’s action today is based on philosophy or personal politics."
Case said last night that he did not ask Hannemann for an endorsement against Akaka four years ago. He said his conversation with Hannemann came after Hannemann had already decided to back Akaka.
"It’s a standard Hannemann tactic to discredit the messenger," Case said.
Abercrombie said Case has "fierce independence."
"Ed’s statement speaks for itself. As he mentioned, he and I have not always agreed on everything, but that does not stop us from joining together for a better Hawaii," he said in a statement.
Case finished third in a special election in May to fill out the remainder of Abercrombie’s term in Congress after Abercrombie resigned to run for governor. He chose not to enter the Democratic primary against state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa to replace Abercrombie.
Hanabusa, who finished second in the special election, will likely face Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Djou in a rematch in the November general election.
Case has said in the past that his long-term political ambition is the U.S. Senate.