By Derrick DePledge
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, in a heartfelt address on Thursday evening at his Kakaako campaign headquarters, told his supporters that they have provided the strength to sustain him over five decades in politics.
Former Gov. John Waihee introduced Abercrombie as the titular head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and said that the governor's leadership would be necessary for Democrats such as state Sen. David Ige and state Rep. K. Mark Takai to win in the November general election.
Ige, who trounced Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, is up against former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Hawaii Independent Party candidate, in November.
Takai is facing former congressman Charles Djou, a Republican, in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.
Abercrombie did not mention Ige in his 20-minute remarks. Instead, he urged supporters to pass a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool. The amendment is a key component of Abercrombie's plan to eventually offer preschool options to all of the state's 4-year-olds.
The governor traced his time in the islands since he first arrived from Buffalo, N.Y., in 1959 -- the year of statehood -- and celebrated an aloha spirit that embraces diversity. Mostly, though, the governor expressed his gratitude to supporters who have stood by him over the course of his political life.
"I cannot conceive of my life without you," he said. "Your faith and trust, your support and encouragement, has sustained me and lifted me up."
Abercrombie recalled previously telling supporters during one point in his campaign: "You are my strength. And I mean that and I say that from the depths of my soul. You are my strength."
The governor did not discuss any future plans after he leaves office in December. "My pledge to you tonight is that I'm going to keep on with that sense of purpose and that sense of direction that has been the guiding light for me for these past five decades," he said. "That every opportunity that I have to be able to honor the strength of that faith and trust every opportunity I have, tonight and whatever nights are given to me -- whatever days and nights are given to me in the future -- you can count on me.
"You can count on me because of the love that I feel in this room, that we have for each other, and that we have for Hawaii.
"I mua Hawaii."