Mufi Hannemann's official entry in the 2014 Hawaii gubernatorial race complicates an already murky situation.
Hannemann announced Thursday he will run under the Hawaii Independent Party banner. That is a move that assures he will be in the general election.
In his two most recent tries for public office - for governor in 2010 and the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 - Hannemann has been defeated in Democratic primaries.
The former Honolulu mayor believes that running as an Independent will give him a chance to attract moderates and conservatives. The more liberal Democratic Party base has clearly expressed in the 2010 and 2012 primaries that he is not their favorite.
Hannemann's move to the Independent Party is an attempt to bypass that liberal Democratic base and appeal to the electorate as a whole.
We have supported Hannemann in past elections and believe he is a bright, competent politician. This time, though, we believe he is running for the wrong office. We would have preferred that he stay in the Democratic Party and run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by Colleen Hanabusa.
Despite his low approval ratings in the polls, we expect Gov. Neil Abercrombie will prevail over his primary challenger, Sen. David Ige. Then we think Hannemann and apparent Republican gubernatorial candidate James "Duke" Aiona will split the moderate and conservative vote in the general election, providing a clear path for the governor's re-election.
Perhaps we are wrong and Hannemann is right - he can attract a winning plurality in the general election. But, boy, it looks like a long shot. A three-sided fight should help Abercrombie.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.