Free Advice For The Candidates

At this MidWeek, a mere 17 days remain before the state’s primary election on Saturday, Sept. 18.

A big day.

Democrats will choose between two old, party warhorses to carry their gubernatorial banner into the general election: an ex-United States congressman with 35 years of legislative experience at state, city and national levels and an ex-Honolulu mayor who’s served six active years as the city’s chief executive and an equal number on the Honolulu City Council.

It appears that candidates and voters need advice: not the kind obtained from pollsters, political consultants and advertising agencies; no, the good kind you can get only here – for free – at “Mostly Politics.”

First, a word of caution for ex-Mayor Mufi. Your multicolored mail-out titled “Compare and Decide” was a mean-spirited effort to trivialize ex-U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s long career as a Democratic legislator. By playing the local card (yet again), blowing off the ex-congressman’s doctoral education at the University of Hawaii and his legislative career, implying culpability on his part for a staffer’s crime, you trivialized yourself more than you did Abercrombie.

A candidate with too much money and a mean streak can be a danger to himself. Exile the highly remunerated consultant who came up with “Compare and Decide” to a back room of your campaign headquarters. You’ve been dealt the best hand at the primary election table: executive experience and experience in the private sector. Don’t fold your hand by going cheap and mean.

Second, a question for Abercrombie: When are you going to show up? For the past 40 years, you’ve been one of the most exciting politicians on Hawaii’s political landscape. Your passion, your intellect, your rhetorical skills and your sense of humor mesmerized Democrats across the state (and irritated the &$*@!^ out of Republicans). Your opposition to the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, your support for American military and their families, and your championing of progressive measures like civil unions made a lot of Democrats proud.

But thus far in campaign 2010, Abercrombie the happy warrior is nowhere to be found: no humor, little passion – just scowls and sobriety. Don’t let the consultants or your pollsters talk you out of being you. Remember, no member of Congress in Hawaii’s history as a state has made it from the national Capitol to the fifth floor of Hawaii’s state house. Cec Heftel couldn’t do it, neither could Pat Saiki, Tom Gill or Patsy Mink. Changing your spots isn’t going to do the trick.

Finally, words of advice for the voters and the media. Too many issues are not being discussed. We need required debates in which media outlets cooperate to see that all of the issues get covered. And somehow or another, we have to find a way to require candidates to show up for those debates.

There you have it, and it’s free.

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