A former Democratic governor of the state of Hawaii is calling for the resignation of Congresswoman and presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard.
Neil Abercrombie, who led the Aloha State from 2010 to 2014, personally phoned Gabbard, who isn’t seeking reelection in her district, before he went public with his call for her resignation at a news conference in Hawaii this week. His biggest complaint is that as she runs for president, she’s been largely absent from Congress, and thereby failing to adequately represent he constituents.
“I’ve left a detailed message for her as to what I was thinking, what I was doing and what I hoped she would do,” Abercrombie told POLITICO in a phone interview following his announcement. “I’m sure she pays attention to her voicemail.”
Abercrombie, a former longtime House member, said his decision comes from his experience as an ex-special election candidate and a gubernatorial candidate who himself resigned from Congress.
“Trying to do my job in Washington and run for office, another office, in Hawaii was just too difficult. I couldn’t do it,” he recalled. “I had hoped maybe I could do it, and it became obvious that I couldn’t. So I resigned my seat.”
Abercrombie serves as co-chair of state Sen. Kai Kahele’s congressional campaign to succeed Gabbard. But the former governor stressed that he concluded that Gabbard should resign on her own.
“He didn’t ask me to do it. I didn’t ask him whether he thought it was OK for me to do it,” Abercrombie said of Kahele. “Whether it’s good for him or not good for him, I don’t know. I think what’s good for the people of the 2nd District should be the primary question, and I’m sure he agrees with that.”
Abercrombie acknowledged, however, that he gave Kahele a heads-up and said he would support him if Gabbard were to resign and Kahele were to run in the special election.
“We have a new mail-in ballot system now in Hawaii so I think we can hold a special election pretty conveniently and at reasonable cost,” Abercrombie said. “The cost by not having representation … severely outweighs any logistical or mechanical problems associated with running a special election.”
Gabbard’s people said she has no intention of resigning, not now, nor in the near future. Her office has indicated that she would continue to serve in Congress, crediting her for securing “major legislative wins for Hawaii” this session, such as improving reporting on Red Hill aquifer protection and helping veterans impacted by toxic burn pits.
“Hawaii is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s home and her heart,” said T. Ilihia Gionson, Gabbard’s Hawaii communications director. “Her pursuit of the highest office in the land has not compromised her and her team’s commitment to serving the people of Hawaii in her fourth term in Congress.”
However, Abercrombie noted that she has rented a home in New Hampshire and missed more than 85 percent of votes since October, despite voting “present” on President Donald Trump’s impeachment last week.
“[When] she didn’t vote on the budget for next year,” Abercrombie said. “I thought, ‘That’s it.’ Regardless of what her intentions were or what her motivations are, she’s not able to do the job for the 2nd District.”
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