Doing what he said he’d do

We were surprised to read that Gov. Neil Abercrombie trails his primary opponent state Sen. David Ige by a double-digit percentage in Civil Beat’s latest poll.

Frankly, Abercrombie is a bit like Rodney Dangerfield – he doesn’t get any respect. Because, by almost any measure, the governor has done what he promised to do – restore and stabilize Hawaii’s economy.

Yes, we understand that he can be abrasive at times – but he promised he would make the hard decisions to bring the economy back. He did and not everybody liked those decisions. State teachers, in particular, were furious when he imposed a contract on them.

That decision has strained his relations with labor.

But Abercrombie should be given his due. During his tenure the state has gone from a $200 million deficit to an $800 million surplus. He was the first governor of any state we know of who had the courage to face head on – and talk about – the unfunded liabilities in public employees’ health and retirement programs. And he acted on those warnings – prompting plans to have them fully funded in 15 years.

Abercrombie also had the personal courage to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with same-sex marriage.

Friday we listened to the governor at the Maui Chamber of Commerce’s Installation Luncheon. He is passionate about establishing universal pre-K education because children’s brains are largely formed before they enter kindergarten. Abercrombie wants Hawaii’s children to have every advantage as they learn to compete in a world economy.

We did not endorse Abercrombie for governor four years ago. While he had a rough start, he has exceeded our expectations. And he’s done it by simply doing what he said he would do.

That is unusual in a politician.

We have nothing against Sen. Ige. We are simply surprised that a relative unknown is leading a governor who has had a good first term.

Abercrombie deserves more respect.