In a tough re-election fight, Hawaii Gov. David Ige has to reintroduce himself to voters who just four years ago unexpectedly put him in office.
He also has to explain what it is, exactly, he has done since then to deserve a second term.
The governor’s first television advertisement of 2018, a 60-second video titled “Cannery,” is a modest effort at addressing both goals.
The spot opens with a sweeping view of Waipio Valley on the Big Island, which is a little odd because the governor is not from the Big Island. Nor is Tuti Kanahele, who is identified as being from Kapalama on Oahu.
But Kanahele, a Hawaiian language instructor, tells viewers that Hawaii’s people are “hard-working and humble,” and that Ige’s leadership is “a reflection of us.”
As Kanahele says those words, Ige’s face is first seen along with its reflection. “Leadership” is the key word here, as that is what his chief challenger, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, says the governor lacks.
Ige then speaks, telling an appreciative audience how he worked his way through the University of Hawaii with a job on the floor of Honolulu’s pineapple cannery — a common experience for many locals.
The governor also says he “strongly supported” a program for students to earn college credits for free, and that he funded the Hawaii Promise program to make college affordable to everyone. The audience nods and applauds approvingly.
Ige then reminds viewers how he grew up in a large family that struggled to make ends meet. The black-and-white photograph of Ige, his parents and five brothers is priceless and speaks volumes. (See if you can pick out which of the boys is young David.) The governor says he identifies with many in the state who work hard to make ends meet and stave off ruin.
“That’s why I am fighting for a $15 minimum wage and paid Family Leave,” he says.
Most voters will not know that the paid family leave measures making their way through the 2018 Legislature are actually authored by House and Senate leaders, not the administration. Same goes for bills calling for a $15 wage, which are dead this session.
As for declaring that he “funded” the Hawaii Promise scholarship program, the original legislation came out of the House of Representatives in 2017 and ended up being a $1.8 million appropriation in the state budget.
On the governor’s official website (under 2017 Accomplishments), a fuller explanation is provided of the Ige administration’s role: “The governor worked successfully with the Legislature to secure funding for initiatives such as Early College and Hawaii’s Promise to ensure more local students follow a path to 21st century careers and realize their talents.”
But it is the governor who has the authority to release the funds, and Ige has long had education as a top priority.
Education supporter. Hard worker. UH grad. Local boy. That’s the message of the “Cannery” clip.
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