On Politics: Putting aside election bad blood won’t be easy for Ige, legislative leaders
Two things from Tuesday’s election: First, Hawaii just doesn’t vote, and second, there are no early indications of any significant changes in state government. So if you liked 2018, you are likely to love 2019.
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Two things from Tuesday’s election: First, Hawaii just doesn’t vote, and second, there are no early indications of any significant changes in state government.
So if you liked 2018, you are likely to love 2019.
First takeaway is that even by the state’s own accounting, Hawaii residents are not voters. The fewer competitive contests there are, just guarantees fewer voters. This month’s statewide election was the second-worst in the last 20 years.
Back in 2000, 58.2 percent of the eligible voters went to the polls. During that period, the two best years were in 2004, which featured a hard-fought Honolulu mayor’s race, and in 2008, the coronation of Barack Obama. Both races had voter turnout measuring 66 percent.
The other interesting figure from 20 years of vote tallies is that voting by mail via absentee ballots jumped from 11.5 percent to 30 percent.
State law calls for Kauai in 2020 to hold all of its elections by mail, but there is no provision for the rest of the state to follow.
Hawaii should push forward and mail every registered voter a ballot for the 2022 election and actually extend universal ballot access. Hawaii’s legislators don’t need money or a plan; they just need the will to do it.
The second item is how the 2019 Legislature will match up with the Ige administration.
Hawaii’s eighth governor ran the typical incumbent campaign, saying that if you liked the last four years, here are four more just like that for you.
The Ige campaign garden grew the usual Democratic hardy perennials. There were promises of affordable housing, school improvements and the sustainability pledge to double local food production.
Those bromides have been around since the campaigns of John Burns: good on the fuzzy abstract of the campaign trail, but impossibly elusive in the reality of actual new, low-priced homes; cheap, local groceries; and blue-star schools.
Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, one of four legislative leaders who early this year asked voters to dump Ige and vote for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, had not been in contact with Ige and was waiting to hear the details of Ige’s budget plans.
The Legislature and the governor may be run by Democrats, but these are Democrats who neither think alike nor support each other’s positions. And there is still no love lost between Ige and the Legislature.
Saiki and his Senate counterpart, Senate President Ron Kouchi, plus the powerful House and Senate money committee leaders, all endorsed Hanabusa in a fundraising letter in the spring, saying: “As a result of inattention, indecision and inaction on the part of the Governor’s Office, many of the challenges facing our communities have gone unanswered — some have even grown worse.”
Ige called that political blackmail.
“If you don’t contribute to Hanabusa, if you don’t play ball with us, nothing will happen this session” — was the message, Ige charged.
Last week in an interview, Saiki said all four leaders had their own reasons why they endorsed Hanabusa.
Saiki said Ige should “sit down individually with each of us to ask why we did what we did.”
“I didn’t appreciate the spin that he implied the four of us got together to collaborate.”
The election may be over, but it is not forgotten.