- Special Projects
The day after their last two candidate debates, Neil Abercrombie and David Ige released their respective plans for the state, should one of them be favored by voters to be governor for the next four years.
Abercrombie, the incumbent, scheduled his press conference for 2:45 p.m., but Ige, the state senator, beat him to the punch by three hours.
So, let’s start with Ige.
His “action plan,” titled Engineering Hawaii’s Future (Ige is an engineer, get it?), is “a work in progress,” he said, one that was compiled over the course of 13 months of collecting input statewide. He cautioned that the plan was “a living document” that would evolve and be refined once he is in office.
Ige said his plan was not a “campaign document,” something introduced while a candidate is running for office and then tossed aside — a clear reference to the New Day Plan that Abercrombie introduced during his 2010 campaign.
(Read Civil Beat’s analysis of Abercrombie’s New Day Plan, which the governor said he has made good progress on although Ige is critical of unmet promises.)
The priorities of Engineering Hawaii’s Future are:
Ige was asked why he waited until now to release his plan, given that early voting is already well underway. He explained that he did not want to release details in a piecemeal fashion but rather as an integrated, cohesive whole. He also said more recent input, such as on agriculture, meant that he had to make adjustments to his plan.
Ige promises to hold weekly press conferences and make himself and his Cabinet available to the media. His plan offers examples of Ige’s own “track record” to illustrate that his commitments are backed by solid achievements.
Abercrombie’s new plan is called Charting Tomorrow: A Plan for a Brighter Future in Hawaii. He calls the plan “a solid agenda” for the future that builds on the foundations of the New Day Plan. It was put together through his administration with outreach to the public.
Why did Abercrombie wait until 10 days before the primary to announce his plan, rather than a full month ahead as he did four years ago? He referred reporters to Isaiah Berlin, the political theorist, philosopher and historian, and his essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox.”
Abercrombie did not explain the reference, but Berlin’s title comes from the Greek poet Archilochus who said, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The governor did say that his 2010 election was “one big thing” while the four years since have informed the governor on the “many things” he knows now.
He added that he wanted to wait as well until the Hawaii Legislature concluded its 2014 session in May and the subsequent veto period that followed.
Charting Tomorrow has these priorities:
The dueling plans come as the primary election enters its final hectic stretch. They are efforts to prioritize policy and put forth specific ideas, but also to influence the campaign narrative ahead of Aug. 9.
Disagreements over visions for the state have already surfaced. For example, in Kona Tuesday, Abercrombie accused Ige of having vague proposals for guiding the state while Ige said the governor had failed to lead over the past four years.
On Wednesday, Ige said Abercrombie’s criticism of him was “misdirected,” arguing that he has offered specific ideas over the course of the campaign. He also said he did not pretend “to have all the answers.”
That same day, Abercrombie said his new plan was based on “real accomplishments” as opposed to Ige’s “limited index of topics” and “vague concepts.” Indeed, the number of achievements listed in Charting Tomorrow appears equal to the number proposals.
“This has been an action administration,” the governor proclaimed.
Each candidate made a few digs at the other during their respective press conferences at campaign headquarters in Honolulu.
Ige said the departure of Abercrombie’s chief information officer, Sonny Bhagowalia, who was hired to transform the state’s antiquated IT system, was “typical” of the administration’s “lack of leadership.”
Abercrombie, meanwhile, said he is “happy to consider” the senator for a position in his next administration.
The plans are produced below, but here are a few more observations about the physical copies that were distributed by the campaigns:
Abercrombie’s plan is 55-pages long, printed on both sides of the paper, with a table of contents, in color with photos and charts and held together by spiral.
Ige’s plan is is 14-pages long, printed on one side, with no table of contents, in black and white with no pictures or charts and held together by a staple.
Abercrombie’s press conference featured him surrounded by dozens of supporters.
Ige’s press conference featured him alone at a table.