By: Rick Blangiardi
The decision to exclude state Sen. David Ige from the Democratic Party Convention in late May at the Sheraton Waikiki is nothing more than politics as usual.
Back in 2010, then Congressman Neil Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, both running for governor, were permitted to speak. So were former state Sen. Randall Iwase and then-Harbor Master William Aila Jr. who ran for the state's highest office in 2006 and, likewise, Mazie Hirono, Ed Case and Andy Anderson in 2002.
So what's changed now?
Party Chairman Dante Carpenter said there is a limit to who can speak at the convention before it becomes bogged down in speeches rather than important issues.
Therefore, five minutes each have been allotted to Abercrombie, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki. Anybody else has the opportunity to speak at a meet and greet at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
Ige, endorsed by two former Democratic governors, deserves a chance to present his ideas at the Convention. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is a serious candidate and according to polls, is either within striking distance of Abercrombie or virtually tied with him among voters.
Giving him five minutes to speak on the center stage is good for the Democratic Party and shows that the party is open to a vigorous and healthy debate about the future of Hawaii.