Political Radar

'Contests and rivalries'

April 25th, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie won't comment specifically on a potential race for the U.S. Senate until it's official, but says "rivalries" such as the one developing between his appointee, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa are nothing new in Democratic Party politics.

Although she has not officially announced her plans, a Hanabusa campaign source says she has decided to challenge Schatz in 2014 to fill the remaining two years in the term formerly held by U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye.

When asked if he was afraid of a rift developing in the party, Abercrombie -- the titular head of the state Democratic Party -- dismissed the concern.

In a brief interview Thursday in his office, Abercrombie said:

"This is the Democratic Party. I’ve been involved in it for more than half a century. The Democratic Party, by definition, has contests and rivalries and plenty of opportunity for people to put themselves forward as candidates.

"This is nothing new. It goes all the way back to Jack Burns’ days. We’ve always had very, very vigorous contests and opportunities for people to choose who they think best represents the Democratic Party. It’s a history of the Democratic Party, and I think we’re the stronger for it."

Hanabusa's decision also would cause an opening in the 1st Congressional District, triggering what is expected to be a wide open Democratic primary. When Abercrombie appointed Schatz over Hanabusa, who was Inouye's pick as his successor, he said issues he took into consideration included her post on the House Armed Services Committee and the potential for a vacancy triggering a winner-take-all special election for her full two-year term, to which she had just been re-elected.

Abercrombie also dismissed those concerns Thursday:

"I’m always focused on what we can do to maximize the viability of our delegation. So, it’s not so much concern, but whatever takes place in the district is, of course, of interest to me as governor."

7 Responses to “'Contests and rivalries'”

  1. Chicken Grease:

    A Game of Thrones is a good analogy to what might be brewing in Hawaii Dem' politics nowadays.

    We'll see who claims Summer is Coming as their own faction's motto. See who uses a black gecko as part of their flag.

    How 'bout Ours is the 'aina? Gag a Grease with a mango.

    Oh, lordy . . . here comes "not 'theatre' but THEATER" lobby candy; also available in stores.


    # # #

  2. Chicken Grease:

    Here, an intermission (like they have at the theatre [Emphasis Mine.]) . . . I Love Europe (and YOU can, too):


  3. Goober:

    Being in the Europe's theatre and not America's theater,
    you can lobby that on your throne or in Europe,
    as it is called, a bidet.
    schatz and hannabusa are in America.
    A Game of Thrones with an expected
    late entry. Available only online and not in stores.

    "Gag a Grease with a mango."
    Dontopedalogy. Except putting
    foot in its posterior motive and not beak. It's.

  4. Bart Dame:

    While the Burns-Gill rivalry was raging as Abercrombie first became involved in the Democratic Party, there have ALWAYS been tensions within the party and they have flared up periodically before the Burns-Gill wars. The modern Democratic Party was born out of the fusion of (at least) two powerful social forces: the rise of the ILWU on the docks and plantations, along with the ambitions of young AJA veterans, home from the war in Europe and unwilling to accept the second-class citizenship offered them by the Republican-Big Five ruling class.

    To weaken the ILWU, powerful forces, both within the Democratic Party and the business community, attacked it as "communist-controlled." The Advertiser publisher, Lorin Thurston, was particularly rabid on this and used his paper as a tool for inflaming anti-communist hysteria. The Democratic Governor, appointed from Washington rather than chosen by Hawaii Democrats or voters, helped lead the attack. In addition to weakening the ILWU, the Red Scare threatened the prospects for statehood and the pressure split the Democratic Party into at least three camps, the right, the left and the center. The fights were fierce. The 1950 Democratic State convention saw a walk-out by about a quarter of its more conservative delegates. Those tensions continued for the duration of the Cold War.

    Even before the Cold War tensions, in the early years of the party, there were strong conflicts between factions aligned with prominent politicians. In researching the history of the party's disciplinary procedure, I came across a complaint seeking the expulsion of Johnny Wilson for refusing to support a Democratic candidate. (This was well before Wilson became Mayor of Honolulu).

    The party will survive the conflict between the Schatz and Hanabusa supporters as we have the earlier and more serious tensions. If handled well, the conflicts will make us stronger and force both candidates to build relationships across the party, listening to the full range of opinions. That will be good for them, good for the party and good for the people of Hawaii.

  5. Sayer:

    Schatz was appointed - he was never elected to U.S. Congress by the voters of Hawaii. It's healthy and democratic for Hawaii to have a real choice in the Senate primary.

  6. kamaaina808:

    I just love all the angst this (foreseeable) contest is generating amongst some! Fun stuff. Abercrombie's probably just glad she chose to challenge Schatz instead of him.

  7. Goober:

    Someone should define what a Democracy is.
    Mainland or Hawaii Democracy. Seems two different conversations.

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