U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa officially launched her bid to become Hawaii’s next governor Monday.
Surrounded by supporters on the Hawaii State Capitol lawn, Hanabusa pledged to bring leadership, vision, and action to the state.
Former governors George Ariyoshi and Ben Cayetano were in attendance.
“There is a profound sense that we are adrift and rudderless, with decisions made by just a small circle of people with no indication as to who’s really in charge. Meanwhile, the challenges facing our state and communities go unanswered day after day,” she said. “I viewed my whole political career as a journey that brings me to this point.”
Hanabusa says a key issue she would address as governor is homelessness.
“We need something like a safe zone where people can go to and you can enhance it with social services,” she said. “Just because they may not be politically correct, these are the things you’ve got to look at and you’ve got to ask the fundamental questions as to how to address the problem.”
Gov. David Ige, who is currently on Hawaii island, issued the following statement in response:
“The people of Hawaii are always served by choices in leadership. I welcome Colleen’s entrance into the race.
“It is one thing to criticize, and it is another to get the people’s business done. I am proud of our record during the last three years. We have made hard decisions, sometimes unpopular decisions, because it was the right thing to do and in the best interests of the people of this state.
“Our team has improved our financial standing saving the state hundreds of millions in interest payments and rekindled long-stalled infrastructure projects. I kept my promise to cool schools, protected over 40,000 acres of watershed forests on four islands, and ended favoritism and pay to play cronyism in state government, opening up more contracts to our local small businesses. I am also proud of how my administration has taken on the Trump Administration when they have put Hawaii’s and the nation’s values and rights in jeopardy, doing more than most other governors to fight unfair and discriminatory policies coming out of Congress and the White House.
“I may not be the typical politician, but what we need today is less politics and more hard work. The historic firsts coming out of my administration and things I have done since taking office reflects this effort. That is the kind of leadership I believe Hawaii deserves.”
Political analyst John Hart tells us Ige has the advantage of being an incumbent, but the last few governor races have been about people voting based on who they didn’t want in office.
“Governor Ige got in because you can argue people were voting against Abercrombie,” Hart said. “Not to say that Rep. Hanabusa isn’t a good candidate. She is, but how much is this going to be about a negative vote against the governor?”
Meanwhile, Hanabusa says she will not endorse any candidate to fill her seat.
“I believe it’s like this election. The people will decide,” she said.
Hart points out there’s already a variety of leaders vying for Hanabusa’s post in Washington, D.C.
“They are not saying that Hanabusa will win, but they are saying she has a good chance, that they will put together a committee and run for it now,” he explained.