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Abercrombie calls on Hannemann to finish city's rail transit project


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mayor Mufi Hannemann formed a campaign committee to run for governor yesterday, but his potential opponent, Neil Abercrombie, says the mayor should stay put and finish work on the city's rail transit project.

Hannemann, who has not publicly discussed his political plans for next year, is traveling on the mainland, but his supporters filed the necessary papers with the Campaign Spending Commission.

The committee will allow Hannemann to accept donations in the race for governor although he is not yet formally a candidate.

“;It is a serious undertaking,”; said Elisa Yadao, a volunteer for Hannemann. “;It is a deliberate undertaking and it is a way to give structure to those who support a Hannemann-for-governor bid.”;

U.S. Rep. Abercrombie, who is running for governor, said the gambit shows Hannemann “;would abandon his responsibilities for the next political opportunity.”;

Speaking from Washington, Abercrombie said Hannemann “;is demonstrating that his commitment is temporary. His intentions are stated clearly. He is raising money because he's going to run,”; Abercrombie said.

Such a campaign, Abercrombie said, “;is leaving the rail project leaderless.”; Abercrombie, who also supports rail for Honolulu, dismissed Hannemann's pledge to break ground for the $4 billion rail project as a “;photo op.”;

He said Hannemann has not yet put together a needed transit authority, he has not gotten any transit-oriented investment settled nor has he explored all alternatives on routing.

Yadao, speaking for Hannemann, said the mayor has been speaking with “;every member of the congressional delegation and all have been working together to make rail happen with the goal of breaking ground by the end of the year. Mufi is grateful for their continued support.”;

Yadao was also a spokeswoman for Hannemann in his 2004 campaign for mayor and had received a contract to do public outreach for the city's rail project.

Asked about the Abercrombie charge that if Hannemann runs for governor next year, he leaves the state's biggest construction project for someone else to complete, Yadao said she couldn't respond.

“;We are where we are today and we are not going to get in front of ourselves,”; Yadao said, adding that during his re-election campaign Hannemann said he might leave office to run for another office.

Candidates can't file for office until next year.