WAILUKU - Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann ramped up his campaign to win votes on the Neighbor Islands by collecting the endorsement of ILWU Local 142 Wednesday at its union hall in Wailuku.
In a news conference, Hannemann said he was "humbled and honored" to receive the backing of Hawaii's largest private-sector union, with 20,000 members statewide and around 15,000 on Neighbor Islands. Hannemann is seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, which is being vacated by Mazie Hirono. She is vying for the U.S. Senate seat held by Daniel Akaka, who is retiring.
Responding to a reporter's question about his obvious enthusiasm for the campaign to return to political office, Hannemann said, "I'm like a player sidelined, dying to get back in the game."
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann reaches to shake hands with ILWU Local 142 Maui Division Director Willie Kennison on Wednesday morning in the union’s hall in Wailuku. Isaac Fiesta Jr., president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 142, sits between them. The union endorsed Hannemann in his campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District Congressional seat, which serves Neighbor Island and rural Oahu residents.
The Maui News / BRIAN PERRY photo
Isaac Fiesta Jr., president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 142, said Hannemann is needed in Washington to help "break the Republican stranglehold on Congress in their uncompromising servitude to the wealthiest 1 percent while ignoring the growing inequality, lack of good jobs and hardships faced by the vast majority of working Americans.
"We need people like Mufi Hannemann who will stand up for working people," he said.
Fiesta praised Hannemann's record as Honolulu mayor from 2005 to 2010.
"Mufi has done an outstanding job as mayor of Honolulu and holds the experience, skills and leadership qualities for this office," Fiesta said of the congressional seat. "Hannemann has earned the trust and support from labor unions throughout his public service. We will urge our members and retirees to support his candidacy."
During the news conference, Fiesta said the union's support would include working on Hannemann's campaign and canvassing voters in neighborhoods.
Hannemann and Fiesta were scheduled to fly to the Big Island later Wednesday to announce the union's endorsement of the candidate there.
"I'm very grateful for the ILWU's endorsement," Hannemann said. "I've enjoyed their backing in past campaigns and am looking forward to their involvement in this statewide endeavor.
"The ILWU has always been at the forefront in building better lives for Hawaii's working men and women, and I'm looking forward to supporting their cause by bringing my proven leadership, energy and networking experience to Congress."
Nearly two-thirds of the registered voters in the 2nd District are on the Neighbor Islands, Hannemann said. The remaining voters reside in rural Oahu.
The ILWU came out early with an endorsement of Hannemann in his race for governor last year, but he lost the Democratic primary to Neil Abercrombie, now the governor.
While the ILWU has lost some of its political influence with the rise of public-sector unions in Hawaii, it nevertheless remains a force with strong ties to the Democratic Party in the islands.
Hannemann's rival for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District seat, Honolulu City Council Member Tulsi Gabbard, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday. But she has received union endorsements of her own.
She has been endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1186; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1260; the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers, Local 132; the Plumbers and Fitters union, Local 675; the Boilermakers Union, Local 627; and the Elevator Constructors Union, Local 126.
"I'm honored that so many of Hawaii's working people have put their confidence in me and chosen to stand with me as their representative in Congress to create good, sustainable and well-paying jobs," she said in announcing the endorsements in August.
* Brian Perry can be reached at email@example.com.