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Hurricane Neil blew across the front lawn of Blaisdell Concert Hall on Tuesday night, leaving in his wake hundreds of supporters soaked with aloha.
All that stands in this storm’s march to Category 5 status Saturday is a tropical depression named David (Ige).
Forgive the storm analogy, but Iselle and Julio are literally up in the air and heading toward our shores.
Neil Abercrombie’s political fate is up in the air as well.
An upbeat governor rallied his supporters in the hopes of securing a final four years in office, in spite of recent public opinion polls (including ours) that show him trailing the state senator by double digits.
The governor insisted he still has the “bottomless supply of energy” that sustained him during four decades in elected office, to serve an additional four years in a second term.
“I do have that energy, I do have that enthusiasm, I do have that commitment,” he told about 200 supporters in front of the Blaisdell. “But it’s no personal virtue on my part. It’s because of you and your support and your encouragement I have the energy I need to do everything I need to do for Hawaii Nei.”
The rally at the Blaisdell — conveniently located at the very busy intersection of King Street and Ward Avenue so drivers-by could catch a glimpse — was initially billed as Abercrombie’s “Final Campaign Rally” before Saturday’s primary. That’s according to a July 28 email blast from campaign field coordinator Jackie Cornet.
By Monday, the campaign event was being called an “Ohana Rally.” A new email blast said, “Please vote for Neil and urge 10 others to do the same on August 9 or earlier by walk-in voting.” The email provided a helpful list of early voting sites.
What happened between those two emails were the publication of Civil Beat’s poll showing Ige ahead of Abercrombie by 10 percentage points and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s poll showing Ige up by 18.
Abercrombie’s campaign manager, Bill Kaneko, sent out an email Monday dismissing the polls and linking to a Washington Post blog calling Hawaii polls “notoriously unreliable.”
Kaneko said, in fact, “We know we’re locked in a tie. … So, the question is, should you believe the polls? Can we rely on Hawaii News Now / Star-Advertiser or Civil Beat to predict election results?”
No, Kaneko concluded: “The recent history of Hawaii polling is not a happy one, with both of these pollsters showing late surveys whose results were far afield of the eventual margin.”
Kaneko, urged “Get out the vote!” Meanwhile, Ige was firing up his own troops Tuesday.
Sign-waving rallies were scheduled in the morning in Wahiawa and the afternoon in Kaneohe. There was also a “Women for Ige” event at Side Street Inn on Kapahulu Avenue at 5 p.m. and a 7 p.m. “Coffee Hour” at Ige campaign headquarters in the old Varsity Building.
The senator and his family also cast votes at Honolulu Hale at mid-afternoon, a classic photo-op.
But the impending storms, one of which is expected to reach landfall Thursday, dominated the day. Late Tuesday, Ige’s campaign asked supporters on the Big Island and Maui to suspend campaign activities so they can make emergency preparations.
The governor’s people have been following the storms, too, both the campaign and the administration, should an emergency situation develop. There is even talk of keeping polling places open late Saturday or delaying the primary, should a real disaster unfold.
The Abercrombie campaign is supposed to hold its election night gathering on the lawn at Bishop Museum. The back up plan now is to hold it at Ward Warehouse, where its headquarters is located.
Back in front of the Blaisdell, where Abercrombie and his supporters sign-waved along King and Ward, no television news cameras were in attendance. The Star-Advertiser sent a reporter but not a photographer. Obviously, Iselle and Julio are the news.
Loyal friends, including Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and former Gov. John Waihee, were on hand. So was House Vice Speaker John Mizuno and his wife, May. And many of the people who work in the administration, including chief of staff Bruce Coppa, donned white Abercrombie T-shirts, held signs and waved.
Privately, a lot of the talk was about the storms, naturally. Some whispered about the polls, seemingly in disbelief that the governor might actually be headed toward a landslide defeat. A few wondered whether he would take Brian Schatz down with him, handing the U.S. Senate seat to Colleen Hanabusa. Dan Inouye’s revenge.
But there were fun moments. Nine girls in ballet dress, called “fairies and sprites” by their adult chaperone, distributed leaflets promoting Ballet Hawaii’s production of “Peter Pan.” They gleefully posed for photos with the governor.
Waihee gave a pep talk and Nancie Caraway said folks were “all fired up” for her husband, who she described as “energetic, brilliant, hard-working, compassionate, sweet, fun, a great film critic — he can even talk Pidgin — I love him dearly. He is a great man. So please help me do everything we can to have Neil four more years.”
Abercrombie kept his remarks relatively brief.
After explaining that he still had the energy for the job, he gave a few stump speech highlights: how he had turned the state’s fiscal picture from the red to the black, how people were working again, how he ended Furlough Fridays and would work to enact universal preschool.
He called himself “a vehicle, a catalyst, a bridge” to help Hawaii reach that “bucket of stars” he saw in the Manoa Valley sky on his first night on Oahu way back in 1959. He recalled how no one expected him to win his first race for the Hawaii Legislature in 1974, which he did — by just 400 votes.
And he repeated his oft-told tale about how he learned that his name on his new office door was not permanently affixed but rather slid off — a lesson to the young lawmaker that the seat belonged not to him but to the people who had the faith and trust to vote him in.
“I have tried to honor that faith. I have tried to honor that trust,” he said. “And I am ready to do it again. With your help … with your going up to everyone you know — whether it’s on Facebook, whether it’s on the phone, whether it’s in person — over these next three days. I know for a fact that the faith and the trust that I have in you, and the faith and the trust that you have in me, is going to be reciprocated all across this state by everyone who wants Hawaii to succeed.”
The governor closed with these words:
“So I thank you — my heart is full of gratitude. My heart is full of joy. Tonight, as I stand here, grateful for the opportunity to serve, full of love for all of you. All of you have given me your support and your encouragement. And to my last breath, it will be for you and Hawaii. Aloha. Thank you very much.”
After that, Hawaii’s chief executive and the first lady danced to “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” from the Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha.”
Three more days.