Tilting at windmills

It was a bit surprising to read Tuesday that the chairman of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee will challenge Neil Abercrombie for the Democratic nomination for governor next year.

David Ige, a 27-year veteran in the state Legislature, represents the Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea district in the Senate. According to a news release and a story on the Star-Advertiser website, Ige’s announcement said, in part:

“I realized that people here in Hawaii are hungry for a governor they can believe in and trust. . . . We need to strengthen and diversify our economy, improve education, and re-engineer government to better serve the people.”

Ige’s announcement surprised us because, as far as we can tell, Abercrombie is just hitting his stride as governor. As we wrote last week after seeing the governor at a Maui Chamber of Commerce installation, the governor has done a very good job turning the budget deficit he inherited in 2010 into a healthy surplus.

He also is tackling the issues of unfunded liabilities for state employees’ retirement plans and health care benefits head-on – something not many governors in the United States have had the courage to do.

We believed that Abercrombie’s only possible obstacle to re-election was the chance U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa would choose to run against him. With her decision to challenge Brian Schatz for his U.S. Senate seat instead, it appeared Abercrombie was a shoo-in for re-election.

We still believe that. Abercrombie has done – and is doing – a good job.

While everybody has dreams, Ige’s appear to be ill-timed, to say the least. It’s hard to fathom why he would give up a powerful chairmanship like Ways and Means to chase this impossible dream.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.