CIRCLING THE SEAT: PNN has learned that Congressman Neil Abercrombie has told Democratic leaders that in fact he will run for Governor in 2010.
According to sources close to Abercrombie he has been telling party leaders “I will be running for governor in 2010“.
One source who asked not to be identified because the announcement should come from Abercrombie himself said that the congressman, with prodding from his family feels it is time for him to “come back home” after turning 70 in June.
Speculation in the press has focused on what will happen in the various musical chairs scenarios that will no doubt commence with Abercrombie’s official announcement.
Also up for reelection in ‘10 is Senator Dan Inouye who, many believe will seek another term despite the fact that he will be 86 at the time but so far there’s been no announcement.
So as the beguine begins the list of suitors spocking out the various available chairs is growing by the day.
Former 2nd Congressional District (CD) Congressman Ed Case has sent out a rather strange email in the last few days asking recipients to recommend which office he should seek two years hence- governor or congress- saying he will support Inouye’s reelection in ’10.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa is also said to be looking for new environs although Abercrombie’s decision could influence her reported interest in the gubernatorial race.
And of course there’s the always-running-for-something Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannamann. While he would have to resign to run for Governor he could run for congress without giving up his current digs.
While most of the speculation on the Mufster’s future has centered on an office on the 5th floor of the capitol, he might see the open congressional seat as an opportunity without a downside should he lose.
And on the Republican side there’s no dearth of ambitious “against all odds” candidates beginning with Governor Linda Lingle who’s pretty much played out any popularity she might have enjoyed six years ago.
Lingle has been mentioned often as a Republican opponent for Inouye’s seat but even though it’s probably pure delusion on her part to think that with her plummeting popularity she could win any race at this point, she may believe that running for an open congressional seat- against the winner of what promises to be a bloody battle in the Democratic primaries- might make more sense,
And the always comical Charles Djou, a Honolulu Councilman know for his somewhat bizarre manner and penchant for self aggrandizement who has already announced his probable losing run for Abercrombie’s seat.
Last and least of course there’s Lt. Governor Duke Aiona who has been running for governor for six years now with his right-wing-nut religious agenda. He gives whomever the Democrats nominate an almost free pass to Washington Place.
But these Honolulu habitants seem unaware that no matter what their support at home may be, half the state’s population not only doesn’t live “in town” and if their names are known at all out here in the boonies it’s because they are so roundly disliked.
That may be the reason why one name being thrown about now about is none other than Kaua`i Senator Gary Hooser.
As Honolulu Advertiser columnist and blogger Dave Shapiro told us in yesterday’s blog post on the “2010 political follies” notes: .
Hooser is running a banner ad on an online news site asking readers “Who is Gary Hooser?” and “What are his core values?” and inviting them to “Click here to watch The Gary Hooser Story.” But when you click through to his Web site, all you get is a teaser that it’s “coming soon” on Dec. 5.
If Hooser is making a big effort to increase his visibility, you have to assume he’s also got his eye on governor, lieutenant governor or Congress.
So we dialed up the always available Hooser- the only elected official we know of who widely circulates his personal cell phone number and urges people to call any time- to find out about his plans.
Hooser told us that his prime interest is in serving the 7th State Senate District but feels that perhaps there are future opportunities for him to serve out there and though he has no plans to leave the job he loves representing Kaua`i and Ni`ihau, he would like to have people in the state outside of Kaua`i know more about him and see what develops.
Hooser could run for either senate or congress in 2010 without giving up his seat to run although a lieutenant governor run would require him to “resign to run”. Hooser has said in the past that his passion is in legislative affairs far more than administrative.
The fact is that Hooser is wildly popular on the Garden Isle and when it comes to representation in Washington D.C we neighbor islanders haven’t had one of our own in congress since Patsy Mink.
And while the rest of the pack may have a tough time with their negative images among neighbor islanders Hooser biggest problem with culling the votes of city dwellers may be name recognition alone.
Hooser’s biggest obstacle is probably that not many outside Kaua`i know the answer to the question “Who is Gary Hooser/” although as Senate Majority Leader many who follow politics know not just his name but his reputation as a well-liked progressive legislator who’s not afraid to stand up for his constituents and to the special interests, even within his own party.
Abercrombie seems a shoo-in for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee and therefore governor at this point.
Hanabusa has a disproportionate and distorted image of her popularity outside her district and is blamed for quite a few fiascos and capitulations to special interests as Senate President.
And Case is a perennial primary loser known as a “DINO”- Democrat in Name Only- which may put him out of the running should he go up against Abercrombie, Hamabusa or Hannamann in a state-wide Democratic primary.
Maize Hirono, the current 2nd CD representative, like Case is from Honolulu and won the seat with less than 25% of the vote in the wild non-partisan special election that followed Case’s resignation to run against Sen. Dan Akaka in ‘06. And she faced no real opposition in her reelection campaign this year.
While it’s doubtful Hooser would take on a sitting congresswoman in his own party it’s certainly not out of the question. Hooser originally won election to the state Senate by taking on a Democratic incumbent, Jonathan Chun, in 2002.
The question that must be asked now is whether Hirono might run for Abercrombie’s urban 1st CD – the district where she grew up and actually resides.
Should that happen Hooser’s attempt to let voters know “Who is Gary Hooser?” might, in hindsight be an appropriate move- one that could bring real neighbor island representation to U.S. Congress for the first time in a long time.