Rule # 1: Elections Are Never Won Or Lost for the Right Reasons.
I’ve been involved in Hawaii politics since the mid-60s and have come to know most of the major politicians here. But I’ve been closest to Neil Abercrombie. He’s become a good friend. He’s honest and intelligent and articulate and very funny. I like him immensely.
Neil burst on the political scene here in the 1970s while a graduate student at the University of Hawaii. He had long hair and a beard and peered or glared or winked at the world through thick horn-rimmed glassed. He opposed the Vietnam War loudly and passionately. And he pissed off a lot of people.
But many of us saw and liked his passion. And we listed to what he said and we liked that, too. Neil is smart and articulate and he made sense. So when he ran for state office, we voted for him … first to the State House, then to the State Senate, then to the Honolulu City Council and finally he ran for the U.S. Congress … and won. Neil quickly made a name for himself and was re-elected again and again, serving a total of 20 years and continuing to be passionate and outspoken. And he pissed off a lot of people.
Then he started thinking about coming home full time. He had turned 70 and making the round trip between Honolulu and Washington every two weeks for 20 years had become a grind. So four years ago, Neil decided to run for governor of Hawaii.
And he won, succeeding Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican. But when Neil took office, he found a hidden deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars and the State’s finances in a mess. There’s no point going into the details, but Neil got it turned around … got the state back into the black and onto solid financial footing. And to do that, he pissed off a lot of people.
Last night we had our Primary Election here in Hawaii and all those pissed off people final got Neil Abercrombie. He lost — and badly — to an obscure State Senator named David Ige. A lot of us are sick over it. Angry, too. Because he lost to the selfish and the shallow thinkers.
And Neil? Well, when last seen, he was on his way over to David Ige’s campaign headquarters and, I have no doubt, full of ideas and burning to help Ige kick the crap out of the Republican candidate in November.
Well and good. But there is no pain quite like being deeply and emotionally involved in a political campaign … and losing. It goes away eventually. But it hurts like hell now.