Mayor's 'I demur' dance holds options


POSTED: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We are just starting on the 2010 Census, but it is safe to say more than 1.2 million people live on this island.

By now about 1 million of them must think their mayor is running for governor. Probably everyone in the whole state thinks Mufi Hannemann is running for governor. There is nothing in his actions to make anyone think differently.

He certainly has been waltzing around the state showing a lot of leg. Good thing Hannemann is so tall because he is going to be showing a lot of skin if he waits until the July 20 filing deadline before confirming everyone's suspicions. Hannemann himself is finding it more and more difficult to deny the inevitable.

First he held a Honolulu fundraiser in which he said it was no secret that U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye suggested he run. Then he held a round of neighbor island rallies to encourage him to run. Now labor unions are endorsing his run.

No, wait, he didn't encourage himself to run, his campaign committee held the rallies. The same campaign committee that has collected $2.3 million and already spent $204,000 in the quest to become governor.

Begging Mufi Hannemann to run for governor has become a mini-industry in Honolulu.

There are practical and political reasons, however, to keep up the “;I demur”; routine. First there is this matter of the city's budget and the state Legislature's always-possible chance of grabbing city money from hotel room taxes and transit tax surcharges to pay for state problems. The longer Honolulu has a mayor and not an acting mayor, the better its chances of being left alone by the Legislature.

Then the Hannemann rail transit program has not yet pounded any stakes in the ground, and until that happens, there is a growing opportunity for rail enemies and skeptics to block the project. Hannemann has defined himself as the defender of all things rail, and if he leaves Honolulu Hale, there will be a natural vacuum.

Finally there are all those questions Hannemann will have to answer: Will you run for another office before your term as governor is complete? Will you accept an appointment to the U.S. Senate if there is a vacancy?

So as Hannemann continues with his “;Dance of the Seven Veils,”; he will have to decide precisely how much he will reveal and when.