HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Democratic candidates for governor Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie are sparring over a new mailer from the Hannemann campaign. The ad suggests that Abercrombie's only real accomplishment is winning a beard contest in Lahaina. The former Congressman says the flier mocks and belittles him, distorts his record and misleads Hawaii voters.
Like the tale of the tape in a boxing match, Mufi Hannemann's camp put together a side-by-side comparison sheet that slams his gubernatorial opponent, Neil Abercrombie. From their birthplaces to their spouses, the mailer called "Compare and Decide" has Abercrombie fired up.
"He's asking you to compare the fact that he was born in Hawaii and I was born on the mainland, that he went to Harvard and I went to the University of Hawaii," Abercrombie said. "He dismisses my 35 years of service to the people of Hawaii. He even asks you to compare our wives."
The ad also says one of Abercrombie's Congressional staffers served time in federal prison for embezzlement. On his campaign web site, Abercrombie says that woman worked for him from 2005 to 2006, and was prosecuted for stealing from two other Congress members as well.
"We find it discouraging because our opponent keeps quickly dismissing any kind of unflattering facts on his record," Carolyn Tanaka, Hannemann campaign spokesperson, said.
Hannemann's mailer also cites a report that gave Abercrombie one of the worst voting records for the 111th Congress. Abercrombie points out that this was only the past year when he was running for governor part time. He says in his 10-plus terms on Capitol Hill, he cast more than 11,600 votes, or 95% of all possible votes.
"All the information in the mail out is factual information and they've been cited and sourced," Tanaka said.
"This brochure is not information," Abercrombie said. "It's the latest example of Mufi Hannemann's negative campaign style and there's more coming."
Reaction from voters was mixed.
"It's pretty much what I expect because a politician is going to try to be factual about what he says, but make it show it in the best light to make himself look better than his opponent," Shawn Gardner, Wahiawa resident, said.
"So you don't have a problem with an ad like this?" this reporter asked.
"I don't have a problem with that," Gardner replied.
"Politics is a dirty business," Leo Scott, Alewa Heights resident, said. "If everything (in the mailer) is true what he said, then I think it's pretty effective myself."
Not everyone agrees.
"I don't like this kind," Diane Marshall, Nuuanu resident, said. "It puts a really bad taste in my mouth for Mufi."
"When you see something like that, does it make you change your mind about a candidate?" this reporter asked.
"Actually, neither one of these guys were anybody that I was considering, so it makes me confirm that I don't want Mufi," Marshall said.
That's exactly the reaction the former Congressman is hoping for.
"This is not what people want from a governor," Abercrombie said. "You can send him a message that his negative campaigning is not going to work this time."
During an earlier interview, the former Honolulu mayor stood by his approach to campaigning.
"Where has Neil Abercrombie been in effectuating change in the economy, in education, in the environment?" Hannemann said. "That's fair. That's open. That's transparent, and he doesn't like that when I bring that stuff up."
So is the race for governor taking a nasty turn?
"I think that what we see here is a hotly-contested gubernatorial campaign," Tanaka said. "Each of the candidates are out there working passionately and very hard, and that's what we're seeing."
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