It wasn’t a love fest, but debate moderator Sherry Bracken actually suggested at one point tonight that Neil Abercrombie and David Ige might kiss each other.
Bracken, of Hawaii Public Radio and LAVA 105.3 FM on the Big Island, really didn’t expect the Hawaii governor and the state senator running for his job to actually lock lips.
But she was reacting to how the two Democrats found a lot of common ground at a candidate forum in Waimea.
Indeed, the two men agreed that more needs to be done to combat coqui frogs and little fire ants, that they would like to see changes in how hotel properties on Banyan Drive in Hilo are leased and that they want to see the Hawaii Community College Palamanui campus succeed.
Screen shot of Gov. Neil Abercrombie, state Sen. Davie Ige and debate moderator Sherry Bracken at a Waimea forum, July 23, 2014.
Which isn’t to say there weren’t disagreements between the two this evening.
As in their earlier three debates — the Waimea forum was the fourth joint appearance — Abercrombie and Ige continue to clash over what to do with the board and department of education, how to address early childhood education and whether members of some state boards and commissions should publicly disclose their financial disclosure forms, as a new law requires.
A new disagreement surfaced, too: Whether the state is at risk of losing $800 million in federal funds for highways. Ige says it is, Abercrombie says it isn’t.
As in previous debates, Abercrombie was on the attack, essentially suggesting that the senator had 29 years in the Legislature to do something about various issues but has only now got around to speaking out about them. Ige, as in previous debates, did not take the bait and provided his own perspective.
But the two agreed that there were examples of when the executive and legislative branches worked well together over the past four years to the state’s benefit.
The biggest applause (at least from what I could tell from the live-stream feed I followed) came for Big Island boy Scott Enright, the Department of Agriculture boss who was in attendance.
The best line was when Abercrombie said little fire ants “are terrorists that are not open to group discussion.”
The 90-minute forum was sponsored by the Waimea Community Association and a half-dozen area organizations. It will be rebroadcast tomorrow on HPR 1 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Ige and Abercrombie’s last two appearances before the Aug. 9 primary are in Kona on July 29.
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