What office will Mufi run for next?
Candidate announcements, like Christmas decorations at the mall, seem to be coming earlier all the time.
The next primary election isn't until September 2010 and already we've had announcements for governor, lieutenant governor and Congress. That's earlier than tinsel in July.
The big question now is what is Mufi Hannemann going to run for? Neil Abercrombie called dibs on the Democratic race for governor. Ed Case twittered that he wants to go back to Washington. There may be second- and third-string wannabes to challenge both those primary races, but Hannemann is the only one in sight who has the potential of being a spoiler for either Abercrombie's or Case's aspirations. There may be other names floating around, but no one with the take-no prisoners campaign style of Hannemann. If he doesn't formally announce soon, it'll be like putting out the lawn reindeer in December — traditional, but not too good for making money.
Even though people were saying confidently for months that Abercrombie was planning to come back from D.C. to run for governor, it was still hard to believe considering the safe seat he would be giving up. That one move alone, whether Abercrombie wins the election or not, is like pulling a bottom plank from the Hawai'i Democrats' Jenga tower. It puts all the other pieces in play and makes the whole thing precarious and — finally! — exciting.
If Abercrombie hadn't announced his intentions so early, where would Ed Case be? Still waiting to hear about Neil, perhaps. Certainly Case has a history of taking on incumbents, but running for an open seat is just easier and, given his most recent defeat, cleaner.
There are the smaller questions that arise with this shift in the party: Will Hannemann give up the mayor's seat if it means giving Duke Bainum a shot at City Hall? Is Bainum gearing up for a run for Congress? Who is licking their chops anticipating the LG spot next to Abercrombie's name on the ticket? Do any of the current state legislators think their reputation will survive intact after this session of fumbling the budget crisis while accepting big raises? And is Duke Aiona worried at all or is he just eating his five fruits a day and laughing at the Democrats pulling at each other like the proverbial crabs in a bucket?
When Ed Case did his online survey about what office he should run for, governor or Congress, he said the results were a tie. It seemed then that the answer should have been "find out what Neil Abercrombie is running for first." All else flowed from that.
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.