Categorized | Elections, News

Abercrombie to step down; Case to step up

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

With U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie resigning his Congressional seat to chase the governor’s job, Big Island native Ed Case is one of three candidates to join straight into the race to replace him.

Abercrombie, 71, made the announcement Friday morning on his campaign Web site, although the Democrat made clear in early in the year that he was would be running for governor.

He is expected to make a formal announcement Sunday and provide details about when he will leave office.

The resignation means a special election will be needed to fill the remaining months of his two-year term. Primary and general elections still would be held next year to fill the seat.

Former congressman Case, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou committed Friday to running in the special election.

All three previously had announced they would campaign to replace Abercrombie, who spent two decades in Congress.

Case previously won two special elections to replace the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.

Abercrombie’s statement

Aloha Everyone,

On Sunday, I will hold a press conference where I will formally announce my intent to resign from the U.S. Congress and concentrate all my efforts on becoming the next Governor of Hawaii. This decision was the result of much thought and careful consideration.

In the nine months since I announced my candidacy I have met thousands of people across our islands, each sharing stories of hope for the future in the face of a collapse of leadership. These voices have made me more energized and focused than at any time in my career. They have made crystal clear the deep desire for a change in direction for Hawaii.

In these same nine months, you and I have been witness to the most troubling episode in our state’s fifty-year history. Our government has stumbled its way into the eye of an economic and fiscal emergency made worse by a lack of preparation, leadership, and resolve. In these nine months, our children have been shut out of school and parents left feeling ignored and angry. Programs for at-risk mothers and pre-schoolers have been slashed with disregard for long-term costs. The response to the H1N1 flu has resulted in confusion and frustration. Our ecosystem is at risk because of unexplainable cuts to agricultural inspection. Supports for new industries that can spark economic recovery and anchor a future of good paying jobs have been eliminated. The rail transit project on Oahu—so significant to the long-term future of our state—hangs in a balance of uncertainty. Poverty and homelessness is on the rise as compassion in government dwindles.

Instead of signs of hope and a game plan for recovery, we see a Hawaii mired in gridlock and confrontation. More time is spent on placing blame than proposing solutions. In all my years in Hawaii, I have never seen an election where the stakes are so high. Hawaii’s next Governor must be ready to reverse this spectacle on Day One and I will devote myself to that task.

I have shared my decision with the White House, Senator Inouye, Senator Akaka, Representative Hirono, Speaker Pelosi and other leaders in Congress. I will soon set a firm date for my final day in office. My immediate priority is to fulfill those remaining duties that require my participation and pave the way for our next representative.

My departure from Congress will trigger a special election for a replacement. However, the law on special elections provides the flexibility to ensure a timely and cost-effective method for selecting a new representative, as demonstrated by the two mail-in elections for Honolulu City Council held earlier this year. I have complete confidence that the voters of the 1st Congressional District will select a person who will add talent and promise to Hawaii’s delegation.

For me, leaving Congress also means leaving a staff of people who never get the recognition they deserve and pour everything into serving the public. They have been my family, and my gratitude to them is deep and abiding. In Congress I have accumulated 20 years of lessons learned and lifetime friendships—all of which I will call on for the benefit of Hawaii as Governor.

In the House, I am one of 435 members and part of a Congressional team that knows how to deliver for Hawaii. But there is only one Governor, and in the final analysis, these extraordinary times call for extraordinary action. The people of Hawaii need a leader who is totally committed to meeting the challenges that lie ahead.

In the coming months, I will build a team of the best minds including experienced veterans of public service working alongside a new generation of leaders who are eager, energetic, and ready to tackle our problems. Together we will present ambitious, achievable plans for job creation, economic recovery, educational reform, food and energy independence, public health and safety, and government efficiency. For me, issues are not just words on paper; they are a call to action. We will be prepared and we will get things done.

I am asking you to be a part of this effort too. The choices you make for your family and community, and the joint decisions we will make for today and tomorrow will determine our ability to break away from the false comfort of the status quo. This will take everyone who is willing to act on a sense of obligation to each other and our love for Hawaii. It’s not that we will agree on every matter of policy and every nuance of a plan, but we respect and accept one another, and join in a common purpose.

This decision is about what you deserve in a candidate for Governor. I am asking you to go “all in” by choosing to place your faith, trust, and vote with me. I can do no less than go “all in” myself. I cannot claim the Governorship should be a cornerstone of our democracy and not make the campaign for it the center of all my efforts. My choice is to devote all of my time, all my energy, and my complete commitment to working side-by-side with you—for all Hawaii.

Imua Hawaii!

Neil Abercrombie

Case’s statement

Dear Friend:

U. S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie (HI-1) today announced his intention to resign from the U. S. House of Representatives to pursue his campaign for Governor of Hawai‘i fulltime. Congressman Abercrombie will provide the effective date soon; the remainder of his current term through the end of 2010 will be filled by special election to be scheduled by Governor Lingle.

Congressman Abercrombie has served our Hawai‘i and country faithfully in Washington, D.C. for almost twenty years. He was my valued colleague in Congress for over four of those years, and I always appreciated our partnership as members of Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation on issues of critical importance to Hawai‘i or just taking care of folks from back home. His commitment and passion exemplify the best of public service. We spoke this morning, and I thanked him for his service. I wish him well along his campaign trail.

I earlier announced my candidacy to succeed Neil as U.S. Congressman representing Hawai‘i’s great First District (Honolulu: Makapu‘u to Mililani/Waipahu/Ewa Beach), and I today announce my candidacy for the upcoming special election to fill the remainder of Neil’s term. Neil’s mid-term resignation leaves an especially big puka in our delegation at a critical time for our Hawai‘i and country. With my seniority, experience, relationships and knowledge of current issues in Congress, I can and will hit the ground running from day one. Hawai‘i’s representation won’t miss a beat.

We all believe in a better way forward for our Hawai‘i and country. I truly look forward to the opportunity to serve you again in D.C. Our campaign begins in earnest today, and Audrey and I will be seeing you along our own campaign trail.

We also welcome you and yours to join our campaign ‘ohana, starting tomorrow, Saturday, December 12th, 11AM to 1PM, at our holiday lunch at the Central Intermediate School cafeteria at the corners of Pali Hwy, N. Vineyard, Queen Emma and N. Kukui in downtown Honolulu. As always, I welcome your thoughts

With aloha,

Ed Case

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