Speaker Souki backs Tsutsui, Abercrombie

House Speaker and Wailuku Rep. Joe Souki is endorsing Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui in their Democratic Party primaries.

The announcement came Monday at a joint fundraiser on Maui and Tuesday in a joint news release from the Abercrombie and Tsutsui campaigns.

In the announcement, Souki said: “Governor Abercrombie works collaboratively with other leaders to do what is right for the people of Hawaii.”

Of Tsutsui, Souki said he has “earned the trust and respect of legislators and leaders throughout the islands. His rise from being the first senator from Maui to serve as Senate president to his current role of lieutenant governor of our state speaks volumes.”

Abercrombie and Tsutsui said they were honored and humbled by Souki’s endorsement.

Recently, an announcement involving the endorsement of Kahului Rep. Justin Woodson was followed by a retraction. Souki said he usually doesn’t support candidates in Democratic primary races, and he wasn’t endorsing either Woodson or challenger James “Kimo” Apana, the former Maui County mayor.

On Tuesday, Souki said he was endorsing Abercrombie and Tsutsui, the former Central Maui senator, because Tsutsui was “up and coming” and, together, they “make a good team.”

In the Democratic primaries, Abercrombie faces state Sen. David Ige of Aiea, Oahu, and Van Tanabe of Pearl City, Oahu; and Tsutsui’s challengers include state Sen. Clayton Hee of Kaneohe, Sam Puletasi of Ewa Beach, Oahu, Miles Shiratori of Kaneohe and Mary Zanakis of Kailua, Oahu.