Hawaii state Sen. David Ige (D) announced Tuesday that he will challenge Gov. Neil Abecrombie (D) in 2014, giving the governor his first primary challenger.
Ige is the chair of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee. He is an electrical engineer who has served in the state Senate since 1994. Before that, he served in the state House.
“Today, I am announcing my candidacy for Governor of the State of Hawaii," Ige said in a statement. "Every campaign starts with family: they are with you from the beginning, pick you up when you stumble, and help you celebrate and cherish the successes. That’s why I chose to make this announcement from our home."
Abercrombie is unpopular. Polling throughout 2012 showed his approval rating hovering around 40 percent. He also irked allies of late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) when he appointed Brian Schatz (D) to fill his seat, despite Inouye's wish that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) fill his spot. Hanabusa, a close ally of Inouye, is running against Schatz.
The news that Ige is jumping in the race seemed to surprise political observers in the Aloha State Tuesday. In his announcement, he did not mention Abercrombie.
"It takes people who are committed and engaged, and a leader who listens and works together to find solutions," Ige said. "Throughout my career in the legislature, I worked in this way, bringing people together to identify common goals, find solutions, and build trust in our government. As Governor of the State of Hawaii, I will work with our communities in that same way to move our state forward.”
Abercrombie will have a substantial financial head start over his challenger.