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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A campaign of visions, not viciousness

Quick, name the Democrat who ran against Linda Lingle in 2006.

No knock on Randy Iwase, but that was a blowout most Democrats would like to forget. (Bonus points for naming Iwase's running mate).

Four years ago, no big-name Democrats wanted to stick their hands in the whirling blades of the powerful Lingle re-election machine, a tribute to their personal safety-first mindset.

So now we come to 2010 and the big Democrats are back in the game. The problem this time is that the biggest threat is an internal one, that the antagonism between Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie runs so deeply and personally that they might just manage to persuade the voters to hate both of them.

The weekend Democratic state convention didn't deteriorate into the slugfest some had expected and that set a positive tone that we hope can be maintained for more than a few days.

Both Abercrombie and Hannemann invoked the name of John Burns, gave blue-sky speeches about Democratic values and leadership Abercrombie gets the edge for passion and stayed away from anything sounding like a shot at the other.

How great it would be if that could last, if the candidates could inspire and articulate their ideas and describe their accomplishments without having to bring out the artillery to win the September primary. But we're not naive; the candidates can't even stand being in the same room together.

Both are already jabbing each other for being "quitters," bailing out on their offices to run for governor. It's a legitimate issue for the campaign, but it's not the only issue.

We hope leaders of both campaigns appreciate the doctrine of mututally assured destruction, understanding that deploying the "quitter" weapon will only ensure that the other side drops it just as often.

The victory of Charles Djou in the special congressional election held some important information for Abercrombie and Hannemann, if they're listening. Hawai'i voters aren't interested in going tea party, but they're fed up with not getting their money's worth from government.

Both candidates have the backing of important labor unions, but they're going to have to reach beyond that base if they want to get elected.

It doesn't mean shushing labor, but it also means listening to concerns of the 76 percent of Hawai'i workers small-business owners, office managers, sales clerks who don't belong to a union. A lot have been hurt by the recession and they're mad at everyone, Wall Street and President Obama.

One last thing. Randy Iwase's running mate was Malama Solomon.