HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Gov. Neil Abercrombie is calling on Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to resign from her seat in Congress.
Abercrombie, who was once a major supporter of Gabbard's, says he believes the people of Hawaii's 2nd congressional district have not had proper representation in Washington since she announced her run for president.
"To essentially deprive half the state of Hawaii of representation in that sense is unacceptable," he said. "We only have four members in the (congressional) delegation, and just having three there for all intents and purposes does not handle it."
Abercrombie is a co-chair of State Sen. Kai Kahele's congressional campaign for Gabbard's seat, but says he's speaking as a former congressman who understands the demands of the job and gave up his seat to run for governor.
He expressed his disappointment in Gabbard missing the majority of votes over the last several months, as well as casting a “present” vote on the House’s two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“When she just showed up and voted ‘present,’ I thought ― wait a minute ― that’s a step too far,” he said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Gabbard said the congresswoman is working hard for her district even as she runs for the White House.
“Hawaii is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s home and her heart. Just this session, she has secured major legislative wins for Hawaii, including better reporting on Red Hill aquifer protection, consultation between the military and Native Hawaiians, helping our veterans affected by toxic burn pits, opportunities for defense contracting for Native Hawaiian companies, and more,” the spokesman said.
"Her pursuit of the highest office in the land has not compromised her and her team’s commitment to serving the people of Hawaii in her fourth term in Congress.”
Gabbard’s campaign also said she has not missed more votes than any other presidential candidate.
Gabbard announced back in October that she would not be seeking re-election to Congress to focus on her White House run.
But Abercrombie says she should step down immediately.
If Gabbard was to resign, that would trigger a winner-take-all special election, and the new representative would serve the remainder of her term ― with the option of running for the seat in the 2020 elections.
Hawaii News Now’s political analyst Colin Moore says it would be a win-win.
“I think Tulsi Gabbard wins by being able to devote more time to her presidential campaign, and I think the 2nd district would win because they’ll get someone in early someone who will have more seniority than the members who are elected in the next election in November,” Moore said.
Moore says it’s also important that this push to resign came from Abercrombie, since he has been a longtime supporter and one of the first people to endorse her in her initial run for Congress back in 2012, when she defeated Mufi Hannemann and others in the Democratic primary.
“She burst on the scene with a lot of promises and major political support from many democratic officials,” said Hannemann, reflecting back on the election. “I think the more appropriate question is whether in fact those same folks who backed her so strongly then, how do they feel about her today? Has she really lived up to their expectations?”