Friday, August 13, 2010

Hawai'i Governor Race

Race of the Day

Hawai'i Governor

August 13, 2010
81 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Open
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

Long one of the most pro-Democrat states in the country, Hawai'i went in a somewhat different direction in 2002 when it elected a Republican Governor, and a white Jewish woman at that. After eight years, Linda Lingle will be leaving the scene, and most now believe that the state, in which white voters are a distinct minority will revert back to it's Democrat roots in the race for Governor.

It still has the potential to be a competitive contest at the end though. The September 18th Republican primary result is far more certain than that of the Democrats, and what will be the shortest general election in the country could potentially work to the GOP's advantage. While he faces a challenge from John Carroll, a former State Senator, party official and 2000 GOP U.S. Senate nominee, the almost certain nominee for Governor will be Duke Aiona, Lingle's Lt. Governor Governor for the past eight years.

The two main Democrat candidates are longtime rivals in Aloha State politics, who faced off in a 1986 special election for U.S. Congress. In that race, way back when, Neil Abercrombie defeated Mufi Hannemann. Now, they are facing off again for the Democrat nomination for Governor. There seems to be a bit of a tradition of candidates resigning current offices to run for Governor and for this election, Hannemann has resigned as Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu while Abercrombie left behind a seat in Congress that he has held continuously since the 1990 election. (In an interesting note, Republicans were able to capitalize on Democrat division to pick up that seat in a special election, despite the fact that it went to native son Barack Obama by a massive margin.)

Abercrombie is at this point considered a favorite over Hannemann and a poll from Ramussen earlier this summer, show both Democrats with solid leads over the Republican Aiona, but with Abercrombie further ahead. The GOP campaign has pointed to an internal poll showing a far closer race.

The political dominance of Democrats in the state and an overall desire for "change" could work to their favor in this election, as this appears to be the most likely Gubernatorial seat for Democrats to pick up this year. There may be some questions though as to whether Abercrombie, who has the image of a 72 year aging hippie might be the right fit for Hawai'i, especially after two terms of a "Haole" Governor. If the New York born ex-Congressman defeats Hannemann in the primary and Aiona in the general election, he will have beaten two candidates of Asian-Pacific background. Somehow, I think that is going to wind up being an issue in the state, at least somewhat below the surface.

Until there is other evidence, Democrats have to be considered the favorite to win this office back from the GOP. I just have a hunch it will not be a complete blow-out at the end.

Aiona campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 4 D, 6 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 11 D, 12 R