Gov. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday that Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in the state House and Senate and should stop making excuses for a lack of progress on renewable energy, work force housing and public education.
The Democratic governor, back in voluble, lectern-rattling stump mode for a luncheon speech to Oahu Democrats at their convention at Honolulu Country Club, said many decisions at the state Legislature do not reflect the party’s core values.
"I think you need to say to members of the Legislature, ‘Stop the internal fighting. Stop the excuses. Stop walking around as if you’re not listening to anybody else except yourselves,’" Abercrombie told party activists. "And start moving on what is going to move this state forward."
Abercrombie said that as the majority party, "we can’t look to somebody else to extend blame. If we’ve got a problem here in this state in housing, in education, in economic recovery, in energy independence and food security, we have to look in the mirror. That’s where we have to look."
Democrats have a 43-8 majority in the House and a 24-1 majority in the Senate.
The governor said Democrats were right to have high expectations when he came into office in December after eight years of Republican rule under Gov. Linda Lingle, giving the party full control over the executive and legislative branches of government.
"And I don’t think we’ve met those expectations the way we should in the last six months," he said, asking activists for help in standing up for the party’s values.
Abercrombie said he might support placing a ballot question in 2012 asking voters whether they want to return to multimember legislative districts.
Hawaii had multimember districts — where more than one representative serves a district — until 1982. Republicans successfully challenged the practice in court as a violation of the principle of "one man, one vote."
Abercrombie said multimember districts could allow for greater regional representation and provide a better chance for candidates with less fundraising ability and name recognition to get elected.
"You can say, ‘Yes, there may be a big dog in this district here, but this little puppy wants to have a shot,’" he said. "And can you give me a chance?"
State Rep. Linda Ichiyama (D, Moanalua Valley-Salt Lake), a freshman, said she thought the governor made salient points about the state’s direction.
"He really conveyed the strong message that we need to get the ball rolling and get started on projects that are going to revitalize our economy," she said.
Tony Gill, the chairman of Oahu Democrats, said Abercrombie’s remarks were a reminder that his election was not the end for the party, but the beginning.
"What the Democratic Party needs to do, as the governor points out, is have no excuses," he said. "We’re going to solve this."