HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie has to contend with a new challenger. Fellow Democrat and State Senator David Ige announced he will run for Governor in 2014.
David Ige is well known at the state capitol but he'll have to work on introducing himself to people around the state.
Flanked by family David Ige announced his candidacy for governor at his Aiea home. The 56 year old was born and raised in Pearl City. He's been a lawmaker for 28 years and he hopes to engineer a better Hawaii.
"I'm an engineer by profession. I believe in looking at issues, understanding the issues and then really seeking to find win win solutions. I think that in the course of the campaign that will be one of the fundamental differences that you'll see," said Ige. "I am certain we can win this campaign."
He is Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee which means he is one of the main people to craft the state budget.
"You do not become the chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee because you're a dunce. You get that job because the other people in your caucus respect your ability to do the job," said Dan Boylan, Political Analyst.
Managing money is one thing, but Ige will have to prove he can raise funds. He only has $74,000 in his campaign account compared to $1.3 million in Neil Abercrombie's war chest.
"I am confident that the voters in Hawaii can't be bought," said Ige. "I know that we're starting behind but I will be working hard and working to meet many people and understand what their issues and concerns are."
At one point in his term Governor Abercrombie was the least popular governor in the country. He also had battles with teachers imposing the last, best and final offer when contract negotiations stalled. Ige happens to be married to an educator who has his ear.
"Absolutely we talk often and I share with him what the issues and challenges are and my goal and his goal is to see that all of our students succeed," said Dawn Ige, David's Wife and Moanalua High School Vice Principal.
Ige has a reputation for being intelligent. Voters will decide if it's a smart move to challenge the incumbent.
"I would call this an uphill battle," said John Hart, HPU Professor and Political Analyst. "I think you would look for a stumble. In other words if Abercrombie does do something to stumble, what that would be I do not know, but if he does Ige is there as the alternative."
"He will be a formidable foe for the governor. This is certainly a game changer for the 2014 elections. The excitement level has just been put up a few notches because of this race," said State Senator Will Espero, Senate Majority Floor Leader.
Ige's term in the Senate also expires in 2014 so it is not a safe run for office as there is no seat to fall back on. Ige also says he is not running now to set himself up for future campaigns.
"This campaign is about what am I going to be doing in 2014. I'm not really looking at 2018 or anything in the future," said Ige.
Governor Neil Abercrombie is in Taiwan but his campaign manager Bill Kaneko issued the following statement.
"We welcome Sen. David Ige into the race for governor. He has had a long career as a state senator for the Leeward District of O'ahu. Voters will have an opportunity to hear and evaluate both candidates' respective legislative and executive experiences, track records and philosophies. Elections are all about choices. That is the democratic process, and voters will have a chance to engage with the candidates on critical issues that face all of us.
"Under Gov. Abercrombie's strong leadership, the state's fiscal situation is stabilized, the economy is growing, and the residents of Hawai'i are enjoying a period of prosperity and optimism. He has brought in and supported a new generation of political leadership in Hawai'i, and we are fully committed to his reelection in 2014."