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Hawaii's governor defeated in primaries clouded by storms

Neil_Abercrombie
Neil_Abercrombie

By Malia Mattock McManus

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Incumbent Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie was soundly defeated in the state's Democratic primary, results showed on Sunday, in an election that came as the state was cleaning up from one powerful storm and preparing for another.

The loss by Abercrombie, who had been endorsed by Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, marked the first defeat for an incumbent Democratic governor in Hawaii since it was granted statehood in 1959, potentially rearranging the political landscape before U.S. mid-term elections in November.

Final results showed Abercrombie with 30.8 percent of the votes and the winner, state Senator David Ige, with 66.1 percent.

Veteran lawmaker Ige, who was outspent by Abercrombie by about a one-to-10 margin, had gained a double-digit lead in polls leading up to the election, with many voters telling pollsters they were voting for Ige because they were fed up with Abercrombie.

"There were suggestions that his leadership style was arrogant, a my-way-or-the-highway approach," said University of Hawaii political lecturer Chad Blair.

In a concession speech on Saturday, Abercrombie said: "For 40 years going back to 1974 ... every waking breath that I've taken, every thought I had before I slept, was for Hawaii."

Ahead of the election, tropical storm Iselle struck the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, on Thursday. It lost force as it pushed past the state.

All but two polling stations on the east coast of the Big Island opened on Saturday morning, election officials said, with the thousands who could not go to the closed stations being sent ballots by mail.

Those late votes could determine the U.S. Senate primary race between incumbent Brian Schatz and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa. Schatz holds a lead of about 1,600 votes over Hanabusa, election results showed.

Another storm was near Hawaii on Sunday. Hurricane Julio was about 400 miles (645 km) northeast of Honolulu late on Sunday but the storm was expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it moved to the northwest, the National Weather Service said.

At 5 p.m. (11 p.m. EDT) on Sunday, Julio had sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph), it said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)

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