In today's primary elections in Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie is trying for a comeback -- and, he hopes, a longer term in Congress than his first.
Abercrombie's brief congressional career began when he was elected in September 1986 to serve the last three months of the term of Rep. Cecil Heftel (D), who resigned to run for governor. On the same day that Abercrombie won the special election to complete Heftel's term, he lost the Democratic primary to represent the district in the next full term. He was sworn in Sept. 23 for a term that ended Jan. 3, 1987.
Polls show Abercrombie, a Honolulu city councilman known for his unorthodox style -- he drives a 1966 Checker Marathon taxicab emblazoned with his name and his long-haired and bearded silhouette -- leading the other two Democrats, Matt Matsunaga, son of the late Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga (D), and state Sen. Norman Mizuguchi. They are competing for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Patricia Saiki (R), who is running for the Senate. State Rep. Michael Liu is the front-runner in a three-way GOP primary for the seat.
Saiki, after two terms representing the 1st District, is favored to win the GOP nomination for the remaining four years of the term of Matsunaga, who died in April.
She is expected to face Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D), who represented Hawaii's 2nd district before he was appointed in May to fill Matsunaga's seat until the November election. Akaka is favored to win the Democratic Senate nomination.
In the race to fill Akaka's old House seat, polls show former representative Patsy Mink leading three rivals in the Democratic primary. Businessman Andrew Poepoe is the front-runner in a three-way GOP race.