Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Assessing the Democratic Primary Election by grassroothawaii
September 20, 2010, 10:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Hideo Hikida

This past weekend, citizens of Hawaii ventured to the voting booth in record numbers (42.8% of registered voters, higher than 2008 and 2006 primaries) to vote for their choice to represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the race for Governor. While Duke Aiona and Lynn Finnegan won their Republican primaries with relative ease, the most talked about and covered primary was on the Democrat side of the election, with Neil Abercrombie facing off against Mufi Hanneman. In the polls leading up to the election, Abercrombie has always held a single-digit margin lead over his opponent, however when the ballots were counted, Abercrombie ended up winning in a landslide taking all but 4 of the 51 districts of Hawaii. I’ll be the first to say that I was a little shocked at the margin of victory, as it seemed in the days leading up to the election that this race was going to be a little more contested. To the normal, Average Joe, it would have seemed that Mufi received a lot more media attention in terms of commercial airtime. While Mufi did in fact out-raise Abercrombie in terms of funds ($3.4 million to $3 million), the Democratic primary served to prove that money isn’t everything.

While both candidates had similar stances on most of the public issues surrounding the election, the election seemingly came down to the campaign strategies at hand. It seems (to me at least) that very few elections now these days come down to individual campaign strategy. With everyone holding disagreeing opinions on just about everything to taxes, civil unions and immigration policy, it’s become rather easy to pick and choose your candidate based on the information and policy they stand for. That being said, Hanneman was just simply outplayed and out-managed in this election.

Knowing that he was behind in the polls leading up the election, Hanneman decided to launch his electoral “hail mary” play at the voters, releasing his “Compare and Decide” brochure to voters statewide. Most of you have probably already seen this brochure, but in case you didn’t, this brochure essentially compared the lives and personal histories of Abercrombie and Hanneman. Critics responded harshly to the brochure, calling it a desperate attempt to inject localism and identity politics into the campaign-tactics that might have worked at the city level-that ultimately failed. Had I have not known any better, judging from just media coverage and the speeches that Hanneman made, it would have seemed that Hanneman was in control of the race. He seemed confident, almost to an arrogant standpoint, while as Abercrombie (at least to me) kept his Grassroots campaign churning along to the tune of “slow and steady wins the race.”

With the Abercrombie/Schatz ticket already punched along with the Aiona/Finnegan ticket, what do you think will happen in the next couple of weeks? Will Aiona/Finnegan (already a substantial underdog) make a charge and gain more votes or will Abercrombie/Schatz just simply run away with the election?




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