Have you heard Gov. David Ige’s campaign slogan for 2018?

“Quiet But Ineffective.”

OK, I made that up. And my apologies to former Gov. George Ariyoshi for distorting his political mantra.

But the perception that Ige is vulnerable next year is widespread and supported by a recent Civil Beat Poll that found 57 percent of voters surveyed statewide said they’d like to see someone else running the offices on the fifth floor of the state Capitol.

A common gripe is that few can point to any notable accomplishments under Ige, though he has been in office going on three years now. With the Democratic primary a little over a year away, the talk is that someone — Kauai’s mayor, maybe, or the former Ways and Means chair, or a member of Congress, or a media mogul, someone — might dare to challenge the sitting governor.

Should a challenger emerge and prevail, it would be akin to what Ige, then a largely invisible state senator, did to a sitting governor in 2014, pulling arguably the greatest upset in Hawaii political history.

Can it happen again, and so soon?

The governor stopped by the Civil Beat offices two weeks ago, bringing a box of manapua and a set of talking points about what he’s done in office.

His pitch, and presumably his re-election platform, was heavy on what the governor believes is significant progress on reducing homelessness, increasing affordable housing, improving public education, committing to renewable energy and mitigating climate change. You can read more about that on the governor’s official website.

(Interestingly, Ige didn’t have much to say about modernizing the state’s tax collection system, something that a news report suggests isn’t going quite as planned.)

My fellow editors and reporters pressed the governor on why more people don’t seem to be aware of all the things he said he’s done. He blamed poor communication.

But we also asked why he isn’t bragging about his own attorney general’s bold legal challenge to Trump administration policies on immigration. It’s just one of a slew of other key issues where Hawaii has taken a stand against the president. Promoting that could help him politically.

Ige practically squirmed in his chair, unwilling to take all the credit, although he did note that he appointed Chin.

A typical politician would have eagerly boasted of his own AG’s efforts. Not this governor. He’s not like Jerry Brown of California or Andrew Cuomo of New York, national stars in constant search of the spotlight.

Ironically, Ige is at his best when speaking personally of just how important it is for Hawaii to stand up for immigration. He becomes passionate, almost animated, and it’s obvious he really believes what he is saying.

Evidence that the governor’s office is trying to spread the word on achievements:

And here’s the thing about David Ige: He will never be a typical politician, crowing about what’s he’s done or is going to do, and shouting down his opponents. He’s the opposite of former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who he unseated, and the antithesis of President Donald Trump, who takes credit for things he did not do and says things about his opponents no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

For the people who like David Ige, his modest and polite manner are among his most attractive qualities. It may currently satisfy only 20 percent of the electorate, as the Civil Beat Poll showed, but that could prove a valuable base to build on.

A side note: The governor’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney, brought to our offices a handout from the Hawaii Tourism Authority about the Hokulea that featured photos of great leaders from Kamehameha I to Dan Inouye. McCartney’s material also included a card featuring Auntie Pilahi Paki and her definition of the word aloha (e.g., the “h” in aloha stands for ha‘aha‘a, meaning humility or to be expressed with modesty).

And then there was the “Seven Rules From Our Uncles And Aunties,” also part of the HTA handout:

  • No get big head eh!
  • No make big body!
  • Cool head main thing!
  • No talk stink!
  • No hog cheese!
  • Be proud of your heritage, but no make shame!
  • Play to win vs. play not to lose!

McCartney has pedaled this material before, as recently as three years ago, when he headed the HTA. And, as he remarks often and proudly, the Aloha Spirit is actually part of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to view Ige in this context. If he should survive a primary challenge and defeat, say, state Rep. Bob McDermott in the general election, his modest style, his understanding of aloha, will be a factor.

But he’ll also need to speak up more, and frequently, to remind voters what he has done. In the past few weeks, there have been indications that Ige’s office and campaign recognizes that.

An excerpt from a recent email from Gov. David Ige’s campaign. 

The campaign, for example, sent out email blasts celebrating the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling challenging Trump’s travel ban and noting that the governor signed a bill making Hawaii the first U.S. state to officially align with the Paris Climate Accords. The emails asked for campaign donations, something his most recent expense reports show he needs a lot more of to mount a serious re-election operation.

His campaign might also want to re-watch the Andy Bumatai “In The Car” video with Ige, filmed before the 2014 primary. It shows Ige as many people (but by no means most) know him to be: a man who smiles easily, makes joke and talks comfortably but also a man who is focused on facts, who is naturally nervous before televised debates and who explains how his campaign staff finally gave up trying to train him to he a better public speaker.

“No matter what I try and do, I cannot learn to not be me,” he concluded.

That won’t make for a good campaign slogan, but it does point to an approach that could give him another four years in office: Let Ige Be Ige.

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