Will legislators follow Abercrombie’s lead?
Many in Hawai‘i assume that because Democrats control the governorship for the first time in eight years and have the biggest legislative majority in the nation, it’ll be smooth sailing and they’ll be able to pass anything they want.
Don’t be so sure; it all depends if they can agree on what they want to pass. Legislators are factionalized, jealously protective of their own power, have their own special interests to service and won’t necessarily be on the same page as the governor.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie so far has done his talking to lawmakers privately rather than publicly, which makes sense at this early stage as he strives for a collaborative relationship.
But sooner or later they’re going to butt heads on some major issue, and how he works his mojo will tell us a lot about how the next four years will go.
Much has been made of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle’s poor relationship with the Legislature, but relations weren’t much better during the previous Democratic administration of Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was frustrated by the refusal of lawmakers to rally behind his initiatives — particularly on economic revitalization.
Their lack of achievement in tough times helped lay the groundwork for Lingle’s election as our first Republican governor in 40 years.
Democratic legislators have been noncommittal, at best, on the initiatives Abercrombie laid out in his “New Day in Hawai‘i” plan, and there’s ample room for conflict on how to deal with a still-sluggish economy that’s expected to leave state revenues some $300 million short over the next two years.
But the new governor is exuding confidence that his more than 30 years of legislative experience at all levels of government will pay off in forging a partnership with the Legislature.
We’ll know soon enough.