Isle political junkies long for 2010
I believe in the politics of hope and today what I'm hoping for is 2010. Take the upcoming election (please?), what are we to expect?
Although he won election by only 1,354 votes four years ago, no one is running against Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Same story about the opposition among the City Council members up for re-election.
The five fingers on one hand are all you need to count possible changes in the state Legislature this year. And the number of times that an incumbent member of Congress from Hawaii lost a re-election battle is exactly zero. Where is a political junkie to go for excitement this year?
So give me 2010.
That will be a perfect storm of Hawaii politics, a maelstrom of new elections, new faces and new possibilities.
First there is a race for governor without an incumbent. Already U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and Hannemann have expressed interest.
If Hannemann wins re-election, then he could step down to run for governor in 2010, meaning there would be a vacancy at Honolulu Hale with no incumbent, which would tempt most members of the City Council to run, meaning there could be more openings on the Council to fill.
The fallout continues if Abercrombie wins re-election this fall and opts for the lights back home and a run for governor. His urban Honolulu First Congressional District would be vacant luring both Democrats and Republicans such as City Councilman Charles Djou into battle.
If Hanabusa goes thumbs up for governor in 2010, then her seat and the Senate presidency are up for grabs. Most of the Senate is already measuring the carpets and drapes in Hanabusa's fourth-floor Capitol office, so expect a political wrestling match over that vacancy.
To add to this complexity and the political intrigue that we all love, there is the chance that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will become president, meaning that either Abercrombie, an early and loud Obama backer, or Hanabusa, who was asked by Sen. Dan Inouye to help with the Clinton campaign, could wind up with a federal post.
Abercrombie has long served on the House Armed Services Committee and might be enlisted by President Obama to continue his stewardship. Hanabusa might be just the federal judge that President Clinton needs.
Finally, this year's voters could call for a constitutional convention to be held before the 2010 election, with the results to be ratified in the November elections two years from now.
So when asked about the state of Hawaii politics, I say: "Keep hope alive."