Abercrombie close to ’06 decision
He says he has had a lot of encouragement for a Lingle challenge
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie says he is close to making a decision on running for governor after spending the weekend in Hawaii weighing his chances.
While stopping short of declaring himself a Democratic candidate for governor, Abercrombie told the Star-Bulletin yesterday he has had a lot of encouragement.
"I will make a decision shortly. This is not something that is going to hang on," Abercrombie said.
"(Gov.) Linda Lingle can and should be defeated for re-election. That is the fundamental premise, whether or not I do it," Abercrombie said.
"All I can say is I am very grateful for the kind and insightful and provocative thoughts that have come my way," Abercrombie said.
"Everybody is interested and everybody has been very positive, no matter what decision I make."
To run for governor, Abercrombie would forgo running for re-election to Congress, where he has served for the past decade.
He would also have to raise millions in campaign funds to oppose Lingle, who has already raised more than $2 million and is expected to spend more than the $5 million she spent to win the governorship in 2002.
By way of comparison, since 1986, Abercrombie has raised $6.6 million for his congressional campaigns.
Asked why he would run for governor, Abercrombie said he would want to change Hawaii's direction.
"This is going to be an election not based on personalities or ways of presenting oneself. This is going to be an election about where Hawaii is going. ... I am interested in saving Hawaii from a direction that is going now, where we lose our soul," Abercrombie said.
The former state legislator and city councilman, however, did criticize Lingle, saying she has acted "like a prime minister, not a governor."
"She (Lingle) has had her chance and she didn't take it. She continues to say she wants followers elected rather than representatives or senators who represent their districts.
"The basic values of the people of Hawaii are at stake, whether or not we are going to continue to be in charge of our own destiny, or whether people are going to come in and take charge of us," he said.
Senate President Robert Bunda praised Abercrombie's track record.
"He brings a wide array of experiences," Bunda (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) said.
Abercrombie, Bunda predicted, could win next year's race for governor.
"I would give it a good percentage, more than 50 percent," Bunda said.
Lingle was not available for comment yesterday, but she has already formed her re-election committee and is raising money for her campaign.
Other possible Democratic candidates for governor include Big Island Mayor Harry Kim and former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue.