Sen. Ige’s campaign

We had the opportunity last week to talk with state Sen. David Ige.

Ige is waging a battle against Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary for that party’s nomination for governor.

Challenging an incumbent is never an easy task and waging an intraparty battle in a primary is an even harder one.

This year Hawaii’s Democratic Party faces two such insurgencies – Ige’s battle against Abercrombie and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s attempt to wrest the U.S. Senate nomination away from Sen. Brian Schatz.

So why would a 29-year veteran legislator jump into such a battle? Ige says he wants to change the “leadership style” in the state. He said his style is to find common ground and be “inclusive”; currently, he says, there is “too much confrontation and division.”

He also wants to leave a better Hawaii for his children, just as his grandparents and parents did for their offspring.

Ige emphasizes time and again that he is running for governor – not against Abercrombie.

The chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee believes he has a demonstrated record of finding solutions. He points out that while Abercrombie is proud of the state’s $850 million budget surplus, he and fellow legislators cut some $800 million from the governor’s requests.

Ige refers repeatedly to his belief the state must have a “right-size” budget – that Hawaii must live within its means. He said the Legislature has rejected almost all requests for tax increases for the past four years.

The chairman also noted that while Abercrombie may have started the conversation about addressing unfunded liabilities in pensions and health benefits for public employees, it was the Legislature that came up with the plan that ensures those obligations will be fully met.

Ige is a star in the state Democratic Party. His quest this year, though, may be tilting at windmills – no sitting governor in Hawaii seeking re-election has ever lost in a primary.

But we’d predict this won’t be the last statewide election for David Ige.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.