Compare and Decide: Did Mufi blunder?

A political candidate should be concerned about the effectiveness of his campaign mailers when his opponent is circulating them as heavily as he is.

That’s the case with Mufi Hannemann’s “Compare and Decide” sheet that landed in local mailboxes over the weekend.

I received three in the mail for each of the registered voters in the household — and a half-dozen by e-mail from Neil Abercrombie partisans, with “Can you believe this!” notes attached.

I didn’t find the piece especially offensive as mudslinging goes, just a bit juvenile and cartoonish in its Atomic Monkey approach to belittling Abercrombie as a haole hippie whose greatest accomplishment was winning a beard contest.

I can’t imagine it swinging many votes Hannemann’s way that weren’t his anyway, and it might turn off some undecided voters; hence the Abercrombie campaign’s aggressiveness in helping to circulate it.

Abercrombie got a story in the newspaper and good play on all three TV newscasts lecturing Hannemann that “this is not what a governor does; this is not what people want from a governor.”

He was particularly incensed that the mailer asked voters to compare the candidates’ wives, with no apparent point other than that Abercrombie married a haole and Hannemann didn’t.

Hannemann’s slim 2004 victory for mayor over the late Duke Bainum was due in part to a  late attack by a conservative website on Bainum’s wife. It appears the Abercrombie campaign is guarding against history repeating itself.
I look further at the role of race in Hawai’i politics in my column in today’s  Star-Advertiser, “Politicians need to get over the plantation-era bigotry.”

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15 Comments on “Compare and Decide: Did Mufi blunder?”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    I partially tore up the “postcard” and left it on the counter at the Kailua Post Office to express my disgust; however, after calming down, I raised the same issues about its effectiveness & impacts at another candidate’s campaign meeting.

    Perhaps a third of the people there were Neil supporters, another third Mufi fans, and the rest -like me – were either undecided or planning to choose NOTA. That card definitely tipped me into the Neil column. Even the Mufi guys were unhappy about it. Only one of the 15 people all totaled at the meeting thought it was really an effective campaign marketing tool.

    At a social media workshop yesterday, the presenter said that nothing ever goes away. Hey, that beard contest was at least 40 years ago – and it’s still lurking around.

    Who ARE Mufi’s campaign consultants? I really find it amazing that he was dumb enough to let others talk him into it.

  2. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    I really don’t know what the big deal is over this mailer. When I got it at home I laughed at it, to tell the truth. That beard contest thing at the end was like a punchline to a joke for me. The wife thing didn’t even register as offensive, and when I started reading comments and stories about how terrible it was that the piece “compared wives,” I had to go back and see if there was something I missed. Nope.

    At this point, I’m not a true believer in either candidate, so it’s not like I’m trying to defend “my guy.” However, I don’t think the comparison is no more or less fair than any other typical campaign mailer we’ve seen in the past or we’ll see in the future.

  3. WooWoo Says:

    What? and I thought that only Republicans were bigots 😉

    As they say, elections are about the voters more than they are about the candidates. The candidates will stop appealing to the anti-haole vote when the anti-haole vote goes away. Apparently, it’s still there. And according to Mufi, it apparently exists in the carpenter’s union.

    Anybody care to make predictions on the Dem LG race? Who you’re voting for, and who you think is gonna win.

  4. Scott Goold Says:

    Aloha ~
    I believe the most telling factors are photos and point about the beard contest. Mufi created this and used a nice shot of himself. Although 1,000s of photos are available of Neil, he used one of Neil where he looks angry and is clearly not flattering. Mufi is attempting to MANIPULATE voters. I distrust candidates like this.

    This document is a “hit piece” by Mufi – something out of the Karl Rove playbook. This suggests Mufi believes we cannot make up our minds on our own. Mufi must TELL US how to think. I’ve had enough of this type of divisive politics.

    Why would Mufi include the point about a beard contest? Many politicians participate in silly contests to demonstrate humility or add levity to a program or campaign. Those capable of poking fun at themselves suggest a great deal of personal confidence. It also suggests they do not consider themselves more important than regular citizens.

    I was on the fence until this release. I’ve been concerned about Mufi, not because he’s not smart or experienced, he is. I have major concerns about his INCREDIBLY INFLATED ego.

    Mufi wants you to know he is BETTER than Neil … but also BETTER than you and me. He was born here. OK, I’ve had enough of this bigotry. I wasn’t born here. I’m not native Hawai’ian – therefore, I’m a piece of sh*t.

    You know, sometimes those who are immigrants appreciate their blessings more than natives. My grandfather immigrated through Ellis Island. Few loved America more than he did.

    If this race is about who’s more Hawai’ian, I’m voting for the guy more similar to me. I’m smart but not cum laude. I’m sorry I’m inferior to you, Mr. Hannemann, but because you’re putting down candidates like me and implicitly putting me down, I’ve voting for the other QUALIFIED guy.


  5. zzzzzz Says:

    Of course Mufi doesn’t mention that his wife is a kotonk. Isn’t Neil’s wife a UH alum?

  6. zzzzzing Says:

    got it. didn’t read it. tossed it into the trash. pau.

    Politicians, news media, etc. have been using unflattering pictures of their opponents like forever – it’s not just Mufi.

  7. Michael Says:

    hanneman ain’t no Kennedy!
    I bet Mrs. Hanneman gave mufi a katonk
    on his head. Maybe hit him too hard
    and damaging his Ivy League Cum Laude de Da

    mufi wasted money mailing flyers, he could have just blown it over the Islands. He is a tall bag of wind.

  8. shaftalley Says:

    my wife and i see hooser most early mornings at his campaign office on te corner of king and nuuanu st.while taking our early morning walk.we see him thru the big plate windows and he’s always hunched over his lap-top at his desk.i’m not voting for abercrombie or’ll be politics as usual with either one.we need capitalism.we need liberation.

  9. Nikki Heat Says:

    I’ll probably vote for Schatz– young, a little more forward thinking and generally progressive. I like that he has a Chinese wife (they told me this in an email relating the story of her immigrant family).
    I like Hooser, too, but I’m not sure we’re ready for another Neighbor Islander in the Lt. Gov.’s seat (was Nelson Doi from the Big Island?). His wife has a cool accent, but I don’t radio is gonna push him over the brink into the win column.
    I’ve seen Bunda at his cousin’s parish. I have no idea what his wife looks like. I don’t think Filipinos are coalescing around him (I understand Berg is a Visayan).
    I admire Berg for no longer being married to Clayton Hee but her son went to Princeton and she hasn’t done much for education (HSTA endorsed Hooser).
    But I think Sakamoto will win. He has the best commercials. I don’t think he’s saying anything particular profound but he sounds honest and dedicated and looks like a nice guy (even if he’s against equal treatment for gay people on religious grounds). Oh, and he’s AJA and will match-up well with either the basketball player or the weightlifter.
    Poor Karamatsu is single.

  10. David Shapiro Says:

    To answer WooWoo on LG, I’d guess it’ll probably come down to Bunda, Sakamoto or Schatz based on the demographic splits and the weight of the campaigns they’ve mounted. Hooser has enough institutional support that he can’t be discounted, but he doesn’t seem to have the broad base or resources to pull it off.

  11. charles Says:

    David’s prediction is spot on.

  12. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    Nikki, reading your comments on the LG candidates, I think you just justified Hanneman’s mailer as effective. 🙂

  13. Nikki Heat Says:

    I’ve admittedly had difficulty this year picking among the LG candidates. I usually pick the person who fools me into thinking a spouse is part-Filipino. I guess that’s not an option this year so I went with Schatz and Chinese (Jon Riki, of course, has until walk-in voting begins to convince me he has a Filipina girl friend).

  14. Earl of Sandwich Says:

    LOL, Nikki.

  15. Nikki Heat Says:

    The Jury must be in– DAN says he has his own style of campaigning and he wouldn’t have sent out that flyer, and Mufi made a point of acknowledging in his “debate” opening statement that there have been people who were offended by the flyer. The mistake was perhaps not just sending out the flyer but not anticipating very well the reaction or winning the spin cycle (I thought Mufi’s side lost when the MSM in most coverage lazily accepted Neil’s characterization of the flyer as a hit piece or a negative, including the listing of respective spouse names, and educational backgrounds). Neil’s video email response set the tone and the spin. But I think the UH-thing might be real whack from Compare-gate: there a helluva more folks in the islands with ties of some sort to UH than to Harvard. Even if an Ivy League education is nothing to sneeze at (and moreso for a kid from Kalihi), that accomplishment is a personal thing that shouldn’t have been used to subtly sneer at a UH graduate degree. That would be like the State Senate rejecting a female UH law grad for Chief Justice but saying No Problema for the tall guy who went to Harvard and then a law degree from U. Chicago, which would never happen. . . .

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