Teachers union backs Ige over Abercrombie for governor

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Teachers union backs Ige over Abercrombie for governor

HSTA encourages other labor groups to support the senator

By Derrick DePledge

The Hawaii State Teachers Association on Sunday endorsed state Sen. David Ige in the Democratic primary for governor and urged other unions to consider Ige as a viable alternative to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The 13,500-member teachers union, which had backed Abercrombie in 2010, cited Ige’s strong support for public education and public school teachers.

The endorsement is a potentially significant boost to Ige’s campaign, which has struggled to raise money and attract visibility.

Former Govs. George Ari­yo­shi and Ben Caye­tano have supported Ige, but the soft-spoken state senator is widely seen as the underdog against Abercrombie.

“Our selection was made because of his record as a senator and as a representative in this state,” Wil Okabe, the president of the teachers union, said at a news conference at the HSTA’s Red Hill headquarters. “I think that David Ige’s record stands for itself. He has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the professionals at the school level and the charge to allocate funds that go directly to schools and the classroom.”

Okabe said the teachers union wanted to “send a very strong message, not only to the people of this state of Hawaii, but we wanted to make sure that our brothers and sisters in other unions can recognize the leadership quality that David has.”

Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, called the endorsement “an important step toward victory in August,” when the primary election will be held.

“I believe that those closest to the children should be making the decisions about how funds should be spent, what the curriculum should look like and what’s the best way to help our students,” said Ige, who graduated from Pearl City High School and whose wife, Dawn, is vice principal at Kanoe­lani Elementary School in Wai­pio. “And I’m committed to implementing those ideals.”

Abercrombie enraged the teachers union in 2011 when he unilaterally imposed the state’s last, best and final contract offer with a 5 percent pay cut after negotiations with the union had broken down. The union unsuccessfully fought the governor’s move in court and before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Last year the state and the teachers union agreed to a four-year contract that includes pay raises and a more equitable split on health insurance premiums. The deal also created new evaluations that tie teacher pay to student performance.

Abercrombie’s allies have noted that Hawaii, unlike many states, did not force teacher layoffs during the recession. Teachers instead took furloughs and pay cuts to help the state close projected budget deficits.

“HSTA’s decision does not diminish Gov. Abercrombie’s life-long record of support for teachers,” William Kaneko, Abercrombie’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “As a former educator, Gov. Abercrombie remains committed to early education, quality teaching, and advancing education for all children in Hawaii.”

HSTA has opposed Abercrombie’s call for a constitutional amendment in November that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool. The governor wants the option to expand his early childhood education initiative to cover all of the state’s 4-year-olds.

The union wants preschool expansion to take place at public schools — with public school teachers — and has supported the governor’s more targeted proposal for preschool at 30 public schools statewide.

Ige has not taken a position on the constitutional amendment, but has said that the state should focus on existing preschool and child-care programs rather than embark on a new preschool initiative.




HAWAII POLL: Aiona tops Abercrombie in early look at Gov race

By Tannya Joaquin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

We have our first results back from the Hawaii News Now/Star Advertiser election poll.

Hundreds of registered voters were asked if the election were held for Governor today, who would you vote for in the Democratic primary? 47% said incumbent Neil Abercrombie while 38% chose State Senator David Ige. 14% were undecided with a 4% margin of error.

Senator Ige told Hawaii News Now, “I’m very encouraged by the early results. You know there are many still undecided, and most importantly, it’s a really close race.”

Abercrombie’s Campaign Manager said, “they’re pleased with the Governor’s strong lead.” The Governor’s camp touts a $850 million budget surplus and rebound from recession, adding “It took strength and leadership to make the tough choices that led to this positive turning point for Hawaii.”

University of Hawaii Assistant Political Science Professor Colin Moore said of the results, “He’s still beating David Ige in the primary. He shouldn’t be overly concerned. There’s still a lot of time left.”

However the poll shows Republican Duke Aiona leads Neil Abercrombie in a head-to-head matchup 48 to 40 percent.

“I’m a little shocked, but very encouraged by these numbers” said Aiona. “I think what this is is confirmation that the people of Hawaii are just not happy with the way things are right now.”

45% polled have an unfavorable opinion of Neil Abercrombie. 45% have a favorable view. In this race Duke Aiona has the highest approval rating at 58%. David Ige polled 30% favorable, but 38% have never heard of him.

Ige said of the results, “My opponent (Neil Abercrombie) is well known and he can’t beat Aiona as a candidate. I still have much room to grow.” Colin Moore added, The way to gain recognition is to get your name out there and the way to do that is to fund raise to allow you to take out advertisements.”

Aiona enjoys a 51 to 34% edge over David Ige.

A wildcard is Mufi Hannemann. The poll asked if Hannemann runs for Governor as Independent, are you likely to consider voting for him? 39% answered yes, 57% said no. Hannemann sees the results as a viable indication he could win a three-way race.

Hannemann responded to the poll by phone, saying “the fact that 4 out of 10 would pull a ballot for me in a 3 way race, we get 40 percent of the vote.”

However with six months to go until the primary, everyone said it’s too early to read into these results.

Hawaii Poll Tables: Breakdown of the numbers - http://hine.ws/2014hipoll1



Abercrombie’s rivals close in

A poll shows the governor’s vulnerabilities in both the primary and general elections

By Derrick DePledge

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 17, 2014

Voters are deeply ambivalent about Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a new Hawaii Poll shows, an opening that breathes unexpected life into his political challengers.

Despite the state’s economic turnaround and record budget surplus, Abercrombie’s job approval rating stands at 43 percent, and just 45 percent of voters interviewed had a favorable opinion of him.

Abercrombie holds a single-digit lead over state Sen. David Ige in the Demo­cratic primary for governor, a surprise given that Ige has raised little money and many voters have never heard of or do not know enough about the state senator.

Even more surprising, former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who has yet to formally launch his Republican campaign, led both Abercrombie and Ige in hypothetical November general election matchups.

Thirty-nine percent of voters said they would consider voting for former Hono­lulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann if he were to run for governor as an independent.

Rebecca Ward, president of Ward Research Inc., which conducted the Hawaii Poll for the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now, said the poll results are more a reflection on Abercrombie than the strength of his potential rivals.

“When you look at it all together, it looks like voters are expressing unhappiness with Abercrombie and a willingness to vote for anyone running against him,” Ward said.

The job approval and favorable ratings and hypothetical general election matchups were based on telephone land-line and cellphone interviews with 642 voters statewide from Feb. 1 to 11. The margin of error was 3.9 percentage points.

The poll of the Democratic primary for governor was taken among 528 primary voters. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.

A closer look inside the findings suggests that many voters were sending a message about Abercrombie, who nonetheless still appears to have a solid base among Demo­crats for his re-election.

Abercrombie led Ige by 47 percent to 38 percent in the primary, with 14 percent undecided. The governor was up 53 percent to 33 percent, however, among voters who usually back Demo­crats.

Fifty-three percent of Demo­crats also had a favorable opinion of the governor.

The same stark racial and ethnic disparity found in the Hawaii Poll of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa showed up in the primary for governor. Abercrombie, who is white, was up 62 percent to 25 percent over Ige among whites. Ige, who is Japa­nese-American, led 54 percent to 31 percent among Japa­nese-Americans.

Ige also did slightly better than Abercrombie with seniors and the wealthy and demonstrably better among independents and Republicans. Given that independents and Republicans later said they would vote for Aiona over both Demo­crats, the support for Ige was likely a protest against the governor.

“We are pleased with the governor’s strong lead in the recent poll results,” William Kaneko, Abercrombie’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “During the past three years, the governor exercised sound fiscal stewardship that laid the foundation to economic and social prosperity. We now have an $850 million budget surplus and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Our economy continues to grow after years of stagnation and recession. It took strength and leadership to make the tough choices that led to this positive turning point for Hawaii.”

Ige’s main challenge is name recognition. With just six months before the August primary, 38 percent of voters had never heard of the state senator, and 23 percent had heard of him but did not know enough to form an opinion.

Ige had raised about $150,000 through the end of last year, compared with Abercrombie’s $3.8 million, so he has to rely on news media coverage and retail, grass-roots events unless he gathers the money necessary to reach voters at the wholesale level.

“It’s obviously a race,” Ige said. “It’s close. We do know that there are many voters that I haven’t met yet, so we have a huge upside.”

Ige said voters want change.

“The fact that less than half of the people approve of the governor’s performance obviously is very, very encouraging to us,” he said.

The Hawaii Poll’s most remarkable findings were about Aiona. The former lieutenant governor, who lost by double digits to Abercrombie in 2010, is just starting to raise money and is still building a campaign organization.

Yet Aiona led Abercrombie 48 percent to 40 percent and Ige 51 percent to 34 percent. Fifty-eight percent of voters had a favorable opinion of the Republican, including 50 percent of Demo­crats.

“To me what it is is a confirmation that the people of Hawaii are just not happy with what’s going on with the administration,” Aiona said.

Aiona discounted the idea that the poll results were merely a protest against Abercrombie.

“I say it’s what you call voter remorse,” he said.

Hannemann, who lost badly to Abercrombie in 2010 and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in 2012, has hinted he could run for governor as an independent or Republican. The former mayor’s favorable rating was 45 percent, the same as Abercrombie’s.

Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Demo­cratic Party of Hawaii, said he is not overly concerned about Aiona’s showing in the poll or by voter apprehension with Abercrombie, who, as the state’s chief executive, has an influence on the party’s political brand.

“I think this is the usual pre-election jitters,” he said.

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