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Hawaii Governor Close to Obama Routed in Primary Election

Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie attends the Norman Mailer Center's Fifth Annual Benefit Gala sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels at the New York Public Library on October 17, 2013 in New York City. Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Norman Mailer Center
Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie attends the Norman Mailer Center's Fifth Annual Benefit Gala sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels at the New York Public Library on October 17, 2013 in New York City. Photographer: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for The Norman Mailer Center

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Hawaii Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie was defeated in his re-election bid, the first time in the state’s 55-year history the incumbent was ousted in a primary.

Abercrombie lost to state senator David Ige, who won 67 percent of the vote to the governor’s 31 percent, according to an unofficial tally by the Hawaii elections office.

Abercrombie, 76, will leave office after a four-year term in which he antagonized the state teachers’ union and other groups. During a four-decade political career, he served in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives.

“Whatever shortcomings I have, whatever faults that I have, I can guarantee you one of them has never been a failure to give all I can, every day that I can, for Hawaii,” Abercrombie told supporters.

Abercrombie is close to President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii in 1961. Abercrombie “knew my parents before I was a twinkle in their eye” and was “one of the first people anywhere to step up and support me for president,” Obama said in a radio ad that also praised Abercrombie for making “gutsy decisions” in office.

Ige, Aiona

Ige, 57, will face Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, in the Nov. 4 general election. Aiona, 59, lost to Abercrombie in the 2010 election. Mufi Hannemann, a former Honolulu mayor, is running for governor as an independent.

In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, incumbent Brian Schatz leads Representative Colleen Hanabusa by 49.3 percent to 48.6 percent with a margin of 1,635 votes, according to the state elections office. Voting in two precincts on Hawaii’s Big Island was postponed as Tropical Storm Iselle lashed the state, affecting about 8,000 potential voters.

Schatz, 41, was endorsed by Obama and also had backing from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, an arm of the Senate’s Democratic majority, sent Schatz $25,000 on Aug. 1.

Schatz, a former lieutenant governor, was appointed by Abercrombie in December 2012 to succeed the late Democratic Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Shortly before he died, Inouye asked Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa as his successor.

Hanabusa, 63, had support from Emily’s List, which backs Democratic women who advocate for abortion rights.

Either Schatz or Hanabusa would be strongly favored to win in one of the nation’s most Democratic states. Republicans last won a Hawaii U.S. Senate election in 1970. Democrats control 55 of 100 seats in the Senate.

The Senate seat in Hawaii will be on the ballot again in 2016, with a full six-year term at stake.

The state has twice voted for a Republican president: the re-election of Richard Nixon in 1972 and of Ronald Reagan in 1984.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at ggiroux@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net Steve Geimann, Bernard Kohn

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