Handicapping The Guv’s Race

The question of this month, next month and October is: Can Duke Aiona (R) or Mufi Hannemann (I) defeat David Ige (D) in the November general election?

Ige is not eloquent or charismatic and drew many “Anybody But Abercrombie” voters in the primary.

But I can’t see an Aiona or Hannemann win unless Ige or the Democratic Party steps in a big pile of smelly stuff.

Several reasons:

1) Aiona has been selling himself this time around as Mr. Moderate, even though his reputation is as a conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage Catholic. But he has inherited in New Hope Metro pastor Elwin Ahu a running mate who cannot escape the tag of committed social conservatism in a socially liberal state.

2) Mufi Hannemann is an anti-gay marriage Mormon who’s lost races back-to-back, and he picked as a running mate Les Chang, a little-known former city parks director who has never held elected office.

Back when Mayor Frank Fasi invented his Best Party and picked entertainer Danny Kaleikini as running mate it did not go well. Most voters instinctively lean toward a No. 2 they feel is up to the No. 1 job in case of absence or illness or death, and traditionally somebody who will be in the running for No. 1 in four or eight years.

3) The persuasive power of the socially conservative Catholic and Mormon churches in Hawaii has greatly diminished in the past 20-plus years. They’ve been defeated on the women’s equal rights amendment and same-sex marriage. Aiona does have a high “likability” quotient and you cannot measure his electability by this past primary. Many Republicans were voting in the hot Democratic races.

But in the coming general, I see Aiona and Hannemann canceling each other out as they seek conservative or at least non-Democratic voters. Hannemann long has been perceived as a Republican masquerading as a Democrat. So the odds seem stacked against both candidates. Linda Lingle in 2002/2006 was about union unhappiness with Ben Cayetano. Unions are back in the Democrat fold. We haven’t had real ethnic-block voting for many years, but I’m betting AJAs who’ve split before will come home to Ige Democrats.

My crystal ball sees a Democratic governor and heavily tilted Democratic state House and Senate (the GOP did not seriously contest many races), a Democratic U.S. senator for sure, and the likelihood of a Democrat in 1st Congressional District, although I fudge on that one because the GOP’s Charles Djou is an excellent campaigner, a moderate and a veteran, as is Democrat Mark Takai, and will be financed heavily by local Republicans seeking some seat at the tablet.

Then, Nov. 5, you can tell me how wrong I was!