TIME 2014 Election

Hawaii Governor Ousted In Surprise Primary Loss

Neil Abercrombie, David Ige
Hawaii State Sen. David Ige, right, waves to his supporters an thanks Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, right, who promised his support, Aug. 9, 2014, in Honolulu. Eugene Tanner—AP

But Senate race too close to call

The Hawaii Democrat Party is making Republicans in the state look unified and organized. In a primary season dominated by GOP strife, Hawaii now has its own brand of drama. On Saturday, voters went to the polls and decisively voted out incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie. State Sen. David Ige got 66% of the vote to Abercrombie’s 30.9%. Abercrombie is the first sitting governor to lose a primary since 2010.

Abercrombie probably wasn’t helped by a pair of storms that have ravaged the islands just before voting. Abercrombie’s reputation for mismanagement and poor preparation were highlighted as Tropical Storn Iselle and Hurricane Julio passed through the islands, leaving the final week of campaigning and voting Saturday in chaos. He could’ve postponed the primary but chose not to. Ige isn’t a shoo-in, though. He now faces Republican Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor, and Independent Mufi Hannemann, a former Democratic mayor of Honolulu.

Speaking of ongoing tough races, the election to pick the Democratic nominee for the Senate will take weeks to sort out. Abercrombie appointed Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the post after longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye passed in late 2012. But on his death bed, Inouye said he wanted Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to succeed him. Hanabusa, who also has the endorsement of Inouye’s widow, and Schatz, who has the endorsement of President Obama, are squaring off in the primary.

As of early Sunday, Schatz holds a narrow lead of 1,788, or 48.6% of the vote to Hanabusa’s 47.8%.

Remember that bad Kevin Costner movie, Swing Vote, where he discovers he’s the only person in America who can decide a presidential race? Yes, the one where every expert said that’s not possible because when polls close, they close. Well, apparently, Hawaii is about to experience firsthand a version of that movie. A tiny pocket of 8,000 eligible voters who were in the areas most severely impacted by the storms were given the ability to vote by mail in the coming weeks. The fate of the seat now rests in their hands — and on how much Hanabusa and Schatz can charm them.

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