Abercrombie grabs Obama's coattails


POSTED: Monday, March 09, 2009

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday that his 30 years in the legislative branch of city, state and federal government have been training for the state's top executive job.

The Democratic congressman tied his bid for governor to President Barack Obama's campaign in an announcement yesterday before about 100 supporters in Honolulu.

“;We did not end this movement with the inauguration in January, but this movement is going to go out to the local and state level all across the country,”; he said. “;I'm reaching out to all the Obama voters throughout all the islands, and I'm saying we can bring change to Hawaii.”;

A friend of Obama's family for four decades, Abercrombie campaigned here and on the mainland for the Hawaii-born candidate.

“;To me this is fulfillment of all the years of public service I've been involved in. I felt if we could get Barack Obama in and return the Congress to a solid (Democratic) majority to support him, that it was important then to have an anchor in Washington Place, in the governor's chair.”;

In a written statement, Republican Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona, the only other announced candidate, said, “;The people of Hawaii want more than insider politics that cater to special interests.”;

Hawaii voters, Aiona said, “;want a transparent, accountable and fiscally prudent government that helps Hawaii's working families, not burdens them with higher taxes and more debt. I appreciate the congressman's service, but he has been in Washington, D.C., for a long time.”;

Abercrombie, 70, won his first election in 1974 and served on the City Council, in the state House of Representatives and the state Senate before being elected in 1991 to represent urban Honolulu in the U.S. House. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., he came to Hawaii in 1959 to attend the University of Hawaii, where he earned graduate degrees and later taught. He is married to educator Nancie Carraway.

He identified economic recovery, energy independence, high-quality education and the environment as key issues.

Responding to reporters' questions, Abercrombie said he backs same-sex civil unions.

“;This is no longer about marriage; this is about civil rights.”;

Abercrombie was expected to return to Washington tonight after appearances on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.