Neil Abercrombie

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Neil Abercrombie
7th Governor of Hawaii
Assumed office
December 6, 2010
Lieutenant Brian Schatz
Preceded by Linda Lingle
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1991 – February 28, 2010
Preceded by Pat Saiki
Succeeded by Charles Djou
In office
September 20, 1986 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Cecil Heftel
Succeeded by Pat Saiki
Member of the Honolulu City Council
In office
Hawaii State Senator
In office
Member of the
Hawaii House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born June 26, 1938 (1938-06-26) (age 77)
Buffalo, New York
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Nancie Caraway
Residence Washington Place
Alma mater Union College
University of Hawaii, Manoa
Profession Business consultant
Religion Episcopalian[1]

Neil Abercrombie (born June 26, 1938) is the seventh and current Governor of Hawaii. He was the Democratic U.S. Representative of the First Congressional District of Hawaii which comprises urban Honolulu. He served in Congress from 1986 to 1987 and from 1991 to 2010 when he resigned to successfully run for governor. He was also a state legislator and member of the Honolulu City Council.


Early life and education


Abercrombie was born in Buffalo, New York, to Vera June and Donald Abercrombie.[2] Upon graduating from Williamsville High School (now Williamsville South High School), he went on to pursue studies in sociology at Union College in Schenectady, New York. There, Abercrombie obtained his bachelor's degree in 1959. He arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii a month after statehood in September 1959 to study at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where he earned a master's degree in sociology and later a doctorate in American Studies.[3] There he attended classes with, and befriended, current United States President Barack Obama's parents, Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr.[4]

Political career

Abercrombie first participated in a political campaign in 1970 as "Super Senator", seeking the Democratic nomination to the United States Senate. Unsuccessful, Abercrombie ran for the Hawaii State House of Representatives where he served from 1975 to 1979. A distinguishing symbol of Abercrombie's early campaigns was a yellow Checker Taxi with his name and face painted on the side, the use of which was motivated by a lack of money for traditional campaigning methods. The taxi became a symbol of both his standing as an outsider from the mainland and his unconventional style.[5] He moved to the Hawaii State Senate, where he served from 1980 to 1986. After Representative Cecil Heftel resigned from the United States Congress in July 1986 to run for Governor of Hawaiʻi, Abercrombie was elected to the House in a September 1986 special election to complete Heftel's unexpired term. However, on the same day Abercrombie lost the Democratic primary for a full two-year term to Mufi Hannemann, who went on to lose to Republican Pat Saiki in the general election.[6]

Abercrombie then set his sights on a seat of the Honolulu City Council. He won the race and served from 1988 to 1990.

U.S. Congress

Abercrombie’s official 109th Congressional photo

At the end of his council tenure, Abercrombie once again ran for Congress and won in 1990, and has since been reelected ten times. In the 2008 election, he won with 70.6% of the vote.

Neil Abercrombie was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and compiled a generally liberal voting record. He supported and voted for the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act.[7] On October 10, 2002, he was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[8] He cosponsored H.R. 1312 (Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2005) on July 28, 2005.[9] He took issue with the Vatican over not listing torture as a sin.[10]

According to Project Vote Smart, Abercrombie holds the following issue positions: he is pro-choice, has voted against a ban on partial birth abortion, and has voted with the interests of NARAL and Planned Parenthood 100% between 2000 and 2006. He has voted for bills designed to make it easier for Americans to vote, such as the motor voter bill. He has advocated strongly for civil liberties; his voting record is supported by both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and American Library Association. He has also voted against a constitutional amendment proposed in 2006 to limit marriage to being between one man and one woman.[11] Notably, he was one of only nine representatives not to cast a vote for or against the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001.[12] In 2005, he voted against the extension of the act, calling it “a blank check to trample civil liberties."[13] In 2007, he signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 676, which would have established a national health insurance program.[14] He resigned from Congress on February 28, 2010, three weeks before the House vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590).[15]

2010 gubernatorial campaign

Neil Abercrombie and his running mate Brian Schatz with their spouses on the day of the election

On Sunday, March 9, 2009, he announced his intention to run for Governor of Hawaii instead of running for an 11th term.[16] On December 11, 2009 he announced that he would resign from Congress to concentrate on his gubernatorial bid. He was succeeded in Congress by Republican Charles Djou, the first Republican elected to Congress from Hawaii since Congresswoman Pat Saiki.

Abercrombie definitively defeated his challenger, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, in the heated 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary election on September 18, 2010, 59.3 percent to 37.7 percent.[17][18][19]

On November 2, 2010, Neil Abercrombie defeated his Republican opponent James Aiona by a margin of 57.8% to 40.8% to become Hawaii's 7th governor.[20][21]

Governor of Hawaii

Abercrombie was sworn in as Governor of Hawaii on December 6, 2010, the first gubernatorial victor of the 2010 election cycle to be sworn in office. He succeeded Republican Governor Linda Lingle. He will be up for re-election as Governor in 2014.

Abercrombie was 72 when he was sworn in as governor, and was the oldest current United States governor for a little less than a month. On January 3, 2011, he lost that title to Jerry Brown of California, who is two months older than Abercrombie.

When Abercrombie took office, he vowed to end the conspiracy theories surrounding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A spokesperson for Abercrombie said he would ask the office of the Attorney General what they can do. [22] State Attorney General David M. Louie informed Abercrombie that state privacy laws prevent the release of "an individual's birth documentation without the person's consent" to persons who do not have "a tangible interest".[23]

In February 2011 Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions. His predecessor, Linda Lingle, had previously vetoed the legislation. [24] His approval ratings dropped steadily during his first year in office, reaching 30% in polls during October 2011, the lowest rating of any US state governor.[25] That month his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, communications director, and deputy communications director resigned in an office re-organization. [26]

Personal life

In 1981, Abercrombie married Nancie Caraway,[27] who is a political scientist and feminist writer at the University of Hawaii-Manoa's Globalization Research Center.

Abercrombie is an avid weightlifter and has a stated goal of lifting 200 lbs more than his age on each birthday.[28] On his 72nd birthday, he bench pressed 272 lbs.[29][30]

In 2006 Abercrombie was named "Scot of the Year" by the Caledonian Society of Hawaii[31].

Abercrombie currently resides in the Manoa Valley area of Honolulu, Hawaii.[citation needed]


  1. DePledge, Derrick (September 18, 2010). "Blowout: Abercrombie to face Aiona after trouncing Hannemann". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved September 19, 2010. 
  2. abercrombie "Ancestries of Members of the United States House of Representatives: Neil A. Abercrombie". RootsWeb. abercrombie. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  3. Abercrombie for Governor. "About Neil Abercrombie". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  4. Ripley, Amanda (April 9, 2008). "The Story of Barack Obama's Mother". Time: 2. ISSN 0040-781X.,8599,1729524-1,00.html. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  5. "Politician's big yellow taxi replaced by a leased SUV". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. August 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13.  (Subscription required)
  6. Rudin, Ken (2006-09-27). "Democrats Poised to Make Gubernatorial Gains". NPR. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  7. Roll call vote 145, via
  8. Roll call vote 455, via
  9. H.R. 1312
  10. Camire, Dennis (March 17, 2008). "Abercrombie seeks Vatican's view on torture". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  11. Roll call vote 378, via
  12. Roll call vote 398, via
  13. "Hawai'i congressmen divided over Patriot Act". Honolulu Advertiser. Associated Press. December 14, 2005. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  14. H.R. 676
  15. DePledge, Derrick (March 2, 2010). "Abercrombie files papers, calls for furlough action". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  16. Mari, Roger (March 9, 2009). "Neil Abercrombie formally announces run for Hawaii governor's seat". Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  17. DePledge, Derrick (September 18, 2010). "Blowout: Abercrombie to face Aiona after trouncing Hannemann". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  18. State of Hawaii Office of Elections (September 29, 2010). "PRIMARY ELECTION 2010 - State of Hawaii - Statewide: FINAL SUMMARY REPORT". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  19. Toeplitz, Shira (September 19, 2010). "Abercrombie triumphs in Hawaii". Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  20. State of Hawaii Office of Elections (November 16, 2010). "GENERAL ELECTION - State of Hawaii – Statewide: FINAL SUMMARY REPORT". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  21. DePledge, Derrick (November 4, 2010). "Abercrombie wins all but 1 district". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  22. Shikina, Rob (December 25, 2010). "Requests increase for Obama birth proof". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-03-05. 
  23. "Governor halts Obama-birth effort". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. January 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  24. Reyes, B.J. (February 24, 2011). "'Today is an amazing day'". Honolulu Star-Advertiser 130 (24): p. A1. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  27. "NANCIE E. CARAWAY MARRIED TO NEIL ABERCROMBIE". New York Times. July 19, 1981. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  28. Eisele, Albert (July 5, 2005). "Menendez: Turn the tables on journos". The Hill. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  29. Crisitunity (September 17, 2010). "SSP Daily Digest: 9/17". Swing State Project. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  30. "Abercrombie takes oath to become Hawaii's 7th governor". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  31. Caledonian Society of Hawaii (March 12, 2009). "Scots of the Year". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 

External links

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