HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie was invited to speak at the state Democratic convention in May, but his primary opponent David Ige was not, which has left the state senator feeling slighted.
In the past the party has allowed top candidates to address convention delegates, but this year, convention organizers gave featured speaking slots to the party’s top eight elected officials.
“Our campaign is getting stronger every single day,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I can see why the governor is afraid to have me address the convention. So I’m disappointed. I think that the members of the party want to hear from the candidates.
“It’s unfortunate that the party has decided to limit who the convention members will be able to hear from,” he said.
Party chairman Dante Carpenter said there are simply too many candidates to give them all five minutes to speak at the convention.
Ige’s campaign advisers are scheduled to meet with Reena Rabago, the convention’s co-chairwoman, and Sarah Beamer, the party’s executive director, to lay out their concerns about the convention. Rabago, an aide to Abercrombie’s deputy chief of staff, Blake Oshiro, said the governor didn’t influence the convention planning, and that they’re not trying to squelch Ige.
William Kaneko, Abercrombie’s campaign manager, told the paper he expected the convention to have a separate candidates’ forum, where the governor would also speak.
In addition to the governor, seven elected officials will have five minutes to address delegates: Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki.