Ige withdraws from gubernatorial debate over video


HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Democratic candidate for governor has pulled out of the first debate of the general election because of a disagreement with the forum’s organizers about video distribution.

State Sen. David Ige said in a letter released by his campaign Thursday that he objected to the host organization’s intent to record the debate and “distribute as we see fit.”

“I did not agree to that,” Ige said.

Ige campaign spokeswoman Lynn Kenton said Ige called the other candidates Thursday to explain his decision ahead of Friday’s forum organized by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

The group’s president, Dr. Kelii Akina, said the group only planned to record the event and post the full, unedited debate on its website. He said the group’s intention was to fulfill its promise of providing an unbiased forum for the candidates.

“That was our highest priority,” said Akina, who said he spoke with Ige’s campaign manager and worked out the concerns, but not before Ige made other plans.

Kenton said the group clarified its stance on video, but not before Ige accepted another invitation that will take him off Oahu on Friday.

“There will be many more public and televised opportunities open to the general public,” Kenton said.

Akina said the nonprofit does not endorse any candidates or parties. On its website, the group bills itself as “devoted to promoting the principles of individual liberty, the free market and limited and accountable government.”

Ige’s opponents — Republican James “Duke” Aiona, Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann, and Libertarian Jeff Davis — still plan to attend.

Ige earned the Democratic nomination after a surprisingly wide win over Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the first sitting governor in Hawaii state history to lose a primary.