No resignation timetable, but Abercrombie says he will finish work


POSTED: Monday, December 14, 2009

With key legislation on health care reform, military spending, the Akaka Bill and other issues expected to come before Congress in the coming weeks, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie says he will complete work on those matters before resigning his seat.

The longtime House Democrat announced Friday his intention to step down to concentrate full time on his run at the governorship in 2010.

He has yet to specify when he would resign but said yesterday that a decision on his timetable is expected within a few weeks.

;[Preview]  Abercrombie resigns from Congress, but when?

Neil Abercrombie announced his resignation from Congress, but remained vague on when he will leave.

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“;The Congress itself right now is dealing with issues, and the timing of the votes is such that I can't give a precise date,”; Abercrombie said at a news conference yesterday at campaign headquarters. “;We know that they're coming up in rapid order.

“;It's now just a matter of finishing up the conferences and finishing up the work of the year, and I expect that that will be done very, very shortly.”;

Although U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye issued a statement saying the move was a “;surprise,”; Abercrombie said he spoke with the senator and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and received their support.

“;He has been very supportive and very encouraging,”; Abercrombie said of Inouye. “;He obviously wants a Democrat elected as governor, as do members of Congress, as does the president. We're all in this together on that.”;

Some have speculated that Abercrombie's move was being made to make up ground against Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who is expected to also run in the Democratic primary for governor.

The head of the state Republican Party has been critical of Abercrombie's decision from the start, saying yesterday the congressman was out of touch with Hawaii.

“;Rep. Neil Abercrombie is as wavering with his resignation as he is with his commitment to Hawaii,”; state GOP Chairman Jonah Ka'auwai said in a statement. “;He made no announcement of a date of resignation and had no real thoughts on the burden the special election to replace him will put on Hawaii's taxpayers or the dismantled Office of Elections.”;

The Office of Elections has said it might not have the resources to staff and hold a special election to fill a vacancy before the September primary. Abercrombie said he would work to fund the office, but he had no concern over his seat going unfilled for an extended period of time.

“;Hawaii is tired of publicity stunts and political shenanigans,”; Ka'auwai added. “;Voters want real leadership, real change, and it is clear the many of the politicians in the Democrat Party cannot offer anything but the same things we've seen for the last 50 years.”;

Abercrombie said his increased momentum makes his presence in Hawaii for the campaign more important.

“;I think people deserve to have somebody running full time,”; he said. “;The campaign has gotten exponentially larger.”;

He also said he was making the announcement now to give his colleagues in Congress time to prepare for his departure.

“;I didn't think it was right to say, 'OK, we have these things handled,' like the Akaka Bill, health care reform, the spending bill and all that kind of thing, and then say, 'OK, I'm gone,'”; Abercrombie said.