Abercrombie vs. Hannemann: a rematch 24 years in the making - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Abercrombie vs. Hannemann: a rematch 24 years in the making

Neil Abercrombie Neil Abercrombie
Mufi Hannemann Mufi Hannemann
Pat Saiki Pat Saiki

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –The battle between Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie - a sparring match between Hawaii political heavyweights is deja vu. It's a rematch 24 years in the making.

"Even when people don't agree with me in every issue, they know I'll fight for them when I think they're in the right" said Abercrombie.

That was 1986. Abercrombie and Hannemann faced off in a special election to replace Cec Heftel in the US House. Things got nasty, with Hannemann making comments about Abercrombie's long hair and attacking him over rumors that he smoked pot.

"You want me to move away from my statement that you are weak on drug legislation. And that is you either retract your statement and say publicly to the people of Hawaii that you made a mistake back then and you're sorry about it, and you've grown up since then, or secondly submit yourself to a lie detector test" said Hannemann.

Abercrombie won and served for three months. But Hannemann won the primary and savored his victory.

"Let's not talk about Neil Abercrombie. Let's talk about Mufi Hannemann. This is a terrific moment for me and my supporters."

But Hannemann never made it to Washington. Turned off by his negative campaigning in the primary, voters picked Republican Pat Saiki in the general.

"The acrimony between Neil and Mufi Hannemann was an advantage to me" said Saiki.

Now, the old foes will battle for a chance at Washington Place in the September primary and there's an added twist. President Obama is friends with both men.

Hannemann helped coach the Iolani basketball team that played Obama's Punahou squad. Abercrombie went to University of Hawaii with his father, and knew the future president as 'Little Barry', he even partied with him the night of his inaugural.

Whether the president will pick sides is unclear. What is clear is that in three-and-a-half months one of these veteran politicians will be out of a job.

But not without a fight.

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