DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, center, his campaign chairman, Dean Okimoto, left,
and campaign coordinator A.J. Halagao kicked off Hannemann's 2008 re-election bid yesterday with a blessing and the opening of the mayor's campaign headquarters at Dole Cannery at 735 Iwilei Road.
Mayor unveils campaign office
Mayor Mufi Hannemann opened his campaign headquarters yesterday, saying he will run his re-election campaign as if he were an "underdog" even through he appears to have no credible challengers.
If he is re-elected, Hannemann would not rule out running for governor or Congress in two years, before his four-year term ends.
"Right now, I am running for re-election," Hannemann said. "But in this business of government and politics, you never say never to the opportunity that may arise."
Hannemann, who keeps one of the busiest public schedules of any elected official, said he will continue to turn out for community events, such as bon dances and other forums.
But he is also trying to attract younger people and is aligning himself with Hawaii-born presidential candidate Barack Obama.
A.J. Halagao, who worked on the local Obama campaign and ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2006, is serving as Hannemann's campaign coordinator.
Hannemann hired a 20-year-old Punahou School graduate and Yale University student Tyler Dos Santos-Tam to manage Hannemann's social networking sites, including Facebook and MySpace, and outreach to Generation Y voters.
Speaking in front of at least 150 supporters at his headquarters, located at 725 Iwilei Road on the first floor of the Dole Cannery, Hannemann, 53, touted his accomplishments at Honolulu Hale for the last four years and asked voters to also back Obama for president.
"I am looking forward to taking our record to the people of Honolulu and asking them if they would rehire me as their mayor," said Hannemann, who was covered in lei from supporters. "Four years ago, it was about a resume and promises. Today, it's about a record, a record of accomplishments we can all be proud of."
Many of Hannemann's supporters in attendance yesterday were his cabinet members, his senior advisers and local politicians, including City Councilman Nestor Garcia and state Reps. Kirk Caldwell and Alex Sonson, who is running for state Senate.
While campaign organizers and Hannemann say they aren't going to "rest of their laurels" for this campaign, no major contender has yet stepped up to challenge the mayor. Anyone running against Hannemann would also have to compete against the mayor's $2.5 million in campaign warchest.
Hannemann called out some of his most vocal critics, including City Councilman Charles Djou and Cliff Slater, who opposes Hannemann's planned $4 billion rail transit system.
"If they're unhappy with the state of affairs at city hall, they should run," Hannemann said. "They're gabbing each and every day how unhappy they are. Well, take a page from me. I resigned my (council) seat in 2000 and I ran."