Hawaii Democrats put up unified front at post-primary breakfast

Politics

Time to shake off the post-primary fog, savor the triumphs, lick the wounds and buckle down for the big one. At the Democratic Unity Breakfast Sunday, there was no mistaking the agenda for November.

Democrats call it the most important vote of our lifetime — to elect the first woman to the American presidency and to keep Republican challenger Donald Trump out.

“I believe we’re going to have a strong vote for Hillary Clinton because there are Republicans and Independents who can’t stomach Donald Trump,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “He’s not what we’re all about.”

While hopes are high for a sweep in the U.S. House and Senate seats, Congressional district 1 candidate Colleen Hanabusa gave pause to honor the man — the late Mark Takai — she hopes to replace and urged Democrats to use his work ethic to inspire their election efforts.

Winners and losers of local races rallied behind Governor David Ige’s call to tackle the economic issues leading to homelessness and loss of agriculture.

But Sunday’s main message was about the importance of that rare commodity in any election — unity.

This year’s internal dissension around Trump’s candidacy has plagued the GOP on the national and local levels, but the Democratic Party has not been immune either, with some candidates calling into question their opponents’ loyalty to party values.

District 2 U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard said “I’m not going to comment on stink talk other people are saying. I’m humbled and grateful to see the vote of confidence from voters last night. … Even if it means vigorous dialogue and debate, it helps us get to a place where we’re coming to a stronger result and better solutions.

“It’s not that there aren’t rivalries,” former governor and congressman Neil Abercrombie said. “The question is can you work that out in a manner that still builds cohesion. That’s what this is all about, and what we’ll try to do is put a smile on our face, overcome disappointments and refocus on the values that made us unified.”

“That’s what makes the party strong,” said Governor Ige. “We have a big tent. We invite people of all different perspectives to challenge the issues, and at the end of the day, we all come together.”

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