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Abercrombie draws 1,100 at start of run for governor


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie launched his campaign for governor last night before 1,100 supporters, promising he would unite the state's quarreling factions and power groups.

Abercrombie gave a 13-minute speech stressing the themes President Barack Obama used in his successful presidential campaign.

Abercrombie also emphasized his plans to use the so-called “;netroots”; political network of Internet-based social media that Obama used to raise funds and unite supporters.

Abercrombie was introduced by Honolulu-born actress Kelly Hu, who said she would work as much as she could to elect the Democrat as governor.

“;Listening to Neil speak is like going to church,”; Hu said about the congressman who kicked off his campaign four months ago.

In the last month, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann has opened an exploratory committee and held at least one fundraiser.

Organizers of the birthday celebration said they did not have final figures on how much was raised from the $200-per-ticket event last night.

Attending were several labor leaders including Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, and J.N. Musto, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly executive director, although they said it was too early in the campaign season to make an endorsement.

Leading Abercrombie's campaign will be former Gov. Ben Cayetano, Amy Agbayani and Walter Heen, former state appellate judge and Hawaii Democratic Party chairman.

The 71-year-old congressman also attracted younger volunteers such as Jennifer Lieu, 25, a promotional specialist at Kahala Mall. She said she volunteered because she shares the candidate's political philosophy.

“;I support a lot of the same issues and I want to make a difference,”; Lieu said.

Hannemann's exploratory committee released a statement while the Abercrombie event was just starting, noting that Hannemann has drawn the support of hotel businessman David Carey, Queen's Health System executive Ruth Ono and George Paris, Iron Workers executive director.

“;Through the years, Mufi has proven to be a champion of working men and women,”; said Paris. “;He has a record of growing the economy in a way that benefits our entire community.”;