Democrats quick with the comebacks in gubernatorial debate

Neil Abercrombie
Neil Abercrombie
Mufi Hannemann
Mufi Hannemann

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

The race for governor kicks up a notch.  With just 19 days before the primary election the two leading candidates traded ideas and insults tonight.

The candidates covered everything from education, the economy and bringing back the Superferry, but in this final televised debate before the primary they both tried to come across as the more trustworthy leader.

The first issue that created some sparks was on the steep property tax increases some people are facing as a result of rezoning.  Abercrombie asked Hannemann to take the blame.  Hannemann defended himself saying it wasn't his decision and turned it back on Abercrombie's lack of executive experience.

"Once again Neil you when you've had an opportunity like I've had to oversee a budget there are many complexities that go into that budget. Unfortunately you don't really understand how a budget is done from a county perspective or a statewide perspective," said Mufi Hannemann, (D) Gubernatorial Candidate.

"Once again its somebody else's fault, and now someone else has to fix it. Mr. Hannemann's campaign rises or falls on his experience, he's recited over and over again tonight and on previous occasions, whether he knew about the tax and thought it was a good idea or he didn't know about it and that's all you need to know about his executive experience and the oversight," said Neil Abercrombie, (D) Gubernatorial Candidate

They were both polished on their answers but the lightning round tripped them up a little bit.

"What's our state song?" moderator Keahi Tucker asked Hannemann.

"Our state song, Hawaii Pono'i," Hannemann responded.

"Who wrote it?" asked Tucker.

"I wish I knew because I'd like him to write a song for me too," said Hannemann.

"King Kalakaua how about that," answered Tucker.

"What's our state flower?" Tucker asked Abercrombie.

"Hibiscus," answered Abercrombie.

"What's our state fish?" asked Abercrombie.

Abercrombie responded with a version of the humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

"Oh we gotta work on that," laughed Tucker.

While they were supposed to talking about the issues it shifted back to character.  Abercrombie asked why a controversial flyer by the Hannemann campaign was still being sent out to neighbor island homes.

"If you thought the mailer was wrong why did you continue to send it out," Abercrombie asked Hannemann.

"That was not a mailer we sent out again, unfortunately the US Postal Service, and I know what you're going to say, that I'm blaming someone else, but that's why they received it, because of the length of time when you do bulk mailing, there's been no new mailer of that and I think for you to question my integrity is something that we should be able to have, that will allow us to move this campaign forward but for you to continue to rehash something we've already owned up to, we said to anyone who felt offended including you, we apologized that was not the intention," said Hannemann.

Both candidates displayed some frustration when they were interrupted by people shouting from the audience.  The state showdown ended on a civil note in their closing statements.

"You know what it doesn't matter who gets the credit, it doesn't matter where the solutions come from be it Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, (Hawaii) or Oahu, but somebody who will collaborate and bring us together," said Hannemann.

"That's what casting your vote is all about, it's an act of faith and it's an act of trust and I'm filled with great emotion when I think about it because that's what defines our democracy and our diversity here in Hawaii, all of us together. I ask for that faith and I ask for that trust and take that chance you took on me then and if you do and I have that faith and that trust I will honor it, you can count on me," said Abercrombie.

Among the issues that candidates disagreed on were civil unions, dispensing medical marijuana and forms of gambling and state lottery.

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