We know him as the very tall former Honolulu mayor, unsuccessful candidate for governor and likely future contender for high office.

But, as of late, Mufi Hannemann has also been carving out a distinct online identity through Twitter.

While Hannemann tweeted during his time as mayor and while running for governor, it was actually volunteers who tweeted for him.

Now he’s doing a lot of the tweeting himself, he tells Civil Beat, and his tweets reflect his passions: sports, food, culture, music, family and tourism.

But Hannemann has very little to tweet about when it comes to his greatest avocation: politics.

573,918 Followers

That’s not to say that Hannemann is not thinking about politics. As he told Civil Beat last week, he is seriously considering running for either Sen. Daniel Akaka‘s seat next year or for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hannemann’s tweeting is certainly a way to keep in constant touch with supporters — quite a lot of them. As of Tuesday, he had an astounding 573,918 followers.

“The number of my followers has stayed steady,” Hannemann told Civil Beat. “I was watching the GOP debate the other night, and it turns out that I have more followers than Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.”

Fact Check: True!

Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) had 570,906 followers as of Tuesday, while Romney (@MittRomney) had just 53,781 followers.

Hannemann has been able to keep his number up even though he’s out of the public eye. At end of his mayoral run, he had 619,814 followers, largely because Twitter put him on the now defunct Suggested Users List, a feature that helped assign a select group of accounts to new Twitter users.

Despite his crushing loss to Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, Hannemann today still has more Twitter followers that all of the following local pols combined:

• Abercrombie (@neilabercrombie) — 8,869 followers
Daniel K. Inouye (@Daniel_Inouye) — 3,120 followers; (@TeamDAN10) — 528 followers
Daniel Akaka (@SenatorAkaka) — 49 followers
Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) — 1,746 followers; (@mazieforhawaii) — 181 followers
Colleen Hanabusa (@RepHanabusa) — 550 followers; (@ColleenHanabusa) — 1,801 followers
Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) — 2,430 followers
Peter Carlisle (@hnl_mayor) — 1,129 followers
James “Duke” Aiona (@DukeAiona2010) — 3,909 followers
Ed Case (@EdCaseHawaii) — 1,226 followers

Hannemann says he has followers from all over the world, including Europe and South America.

A scan of just the first few pages of his followers turned up the likes of state Sen. Mike Gabbard, TV guy Justin Fujioka, Hawaii Electricians, state Rep. Cindy Evans, Guy Hagi, Leonard’s Bakery, the Miami Heat, Watanabe Floral, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Ramsay Wharton, Girl Scouts Hawaii, the mayor of Salem, Mass. — and Mayor Carlisle.

‘So many memories w/ my dad’

Hannemann’s tweets are in a highly positive vein — no biting sarcasm or putdowns, no settling scores. Invariably, he heaps praise on people and institutions.

He can also be reflective, such as in this tweet Sunday:

So many memories w/ my dad: endless hours helping w/ homework, scripture study, attending my games, even him doing dishes & yardwork w/ me!

Hannemann’s tweets from June 9-19 are of a pattern consistent with most of his tweets since the 2010 elections.

Music: hoping Paul McCartney will play a concert here, mourning the death of Bruce Springsteen’s sax player (“Saw them in Apr’09. Rocked the house w/ “Rosalita”!), Amy Hanaialii, songs about fathers for Father’s Day, plugging his “Jukebox Jamboree” on 107.9 FM

Culture King Kamehameha Day, Portugal Day, Philippine Independence Day (“A day near & dear to me, having visited the P.I. several times and been adopted as a son by Vigan, Bacarra, Manila, Pasuquin & San Nicolas.”)

Food: Tasty Crust on Maui (“Amazing banana pancakes and local bfast treats!”), Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo, Sushi Sasabune

Sports: NFL Pro Bowl, NBA playoffs (“Dirk #Nowitzki: an amazing story of perseverance. Shows there’s no “I” in team.”)

Tourism: United Airlines launch of LAX-Hilo flights, mainland folks raising Hawaii hotel occupancy rates, relaxing U.S. visa requirements, and American Hotel & Lodging Association in Atlanta and recognition of Moana Surfrider employees (“Brian & Nancy are representative of the many exceptional employees in #Hawaii’s visitor industry.”)

The deceased: Steve Yamashiro, Harry Kojima (“Will always remember the fishing trip we took to Samoa together.”)

With the exception of the Pro Bowl and the late Big Island mayor, there was nary a peep of politics.

(Hannemann did recently tweet out about a joint appearances with Duke Aiona and Charles Djou on Hawaii News Now Sunrise’s “Across the Aisle” segment.)

Asked about the absence of politics from his tweets, Hannemann says, “That’s true. It’s because I am not in a political mode. I am more in the private sector.”

Hannemann’s day job is president of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association, a major lobbying group. He has expanded to two hours his oldies radio program — “I’m playing more contemporary Hawaiian” — and is writing a weekly column about tourism for MidWeek.

Hannemann said he still tweets out government information, for example, updates on the March 11 tsunami.

“I think this is why I have been able to maintain a following,” he said. “For a politician, it is much better this way for me to comment only when it is relevant, for example, about the Pro Bowl or expediting visa waivers.”

Hannemann adds, “I have really come a long way in understanding the social media.”

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