|7th Governor of Hawaii|
December 6, 2010 – December 1, 2014
|Preceded by||Linda Lingle|
|Succeeded by||David Ige|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st district
January 3, 1991 – February 28, 2010
|Preceded by||Pat Saiki|
|Succeeded by||Charles Djou|
September 20, 1986 – January 3, 1987
|Preceded by||Cecil Heftel|
|Succeeded by||Pat Saiki|
June 26, 1938 |
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Union College
University of Hawaii, Mānoa
Born in Buffalo, New York, Abercrombie is a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Abercrombie began his political career in 1975, after winning a seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives. He served in the Hawaii House until 1979, when he was elected to the Hawaii State Senate. Upon the resignation of Cecil Heftel, who resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives to run for Governor, Abercrombie was appointed to his vacant seat in 1986. Abercrombie served the remainder of Heftel's term on an interim basis until 1987. He served on the Honolulu City Council from 1988 to 1990 before returning to Congress in 1991. Abercrombie served nine consecutive terms in the House from 1993 to 2010, representing Hawaii's 1st congressional district, which comprises urban Honolulu.
After incumbent Governor Linda Lingle was term limited and prevented from running for reelection, Abercrombie declared his candidacy for Governor in March 2009. In September 2010, Abercrombie won in the Democratic primary, defeating four Democratic challengers, including Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, with 59% of the vote. Abercrombie went on to face Republican nominee, Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona, in the general election.
On November 2, 2010, Abercrombie and running mate Brian Schatz defeated Aiona with 57% of the vote. Abercrombie was sworn into office on December 6, 2010. He tried to deal with various problems of the state that included the aftermath of the great recession, restructuring labor union pensions and other issues. He was defeated in the Hawaii Democratic primary by state senator David Ige.
Early life and education
Abercrombie was born June 26, 1938 in Buffalo, New York, the son of Vera June (née Grader) and George Donald Abercrombie. His ancestry includes English, Irish, and German. 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, where he earned 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. At the university he befriended and attended classes with the parents of President Barack Obama, Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr.
To support himself as a graduate student, Abercrombie worked as a waiter at Chuck’s Steak House in Waikīkī, locker desk clerk at the Central YMCA, custodian at Mother Rice Preschool, construction apprentice program director, elementary school teacher, and a college lecturer.
Abercrombie first participated in a political campaign in 1970, 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. 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.
Abercrombie then set his sights on a seat of the Honolulu City Council. He won the race and served from 1988 to 1990.
At the end of his council tenure, Abercrombie once again ran for Congress and won in 1990, and was re-elected 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. On October 10, 2002, he was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He cosponsored H.R. 1312 (Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2005) on July 28, 2005. He took issue with the Vatican over not listing torture as a sin.
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 was one of the 67 representatives to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 and has also voted against a constitutional amendment proposed in 2006 to limit marriage to being between one man and one woman. Notably, he was one of only nine representatives not to cast a vote for or against the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. In 2005, he voted against the extension of the act, calling it “a blank check to trample civil liberties." In 2007, he signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 676, which would have established a national health insurance program. He resigned from Congress on February 28, 2010, to concentrate on his campaign for Governor.
He served as chairman of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces and a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee. He co-authored landmark legislation creating public-private partnerships between the military and private developers to build, maintain and manage housing for today’s military families.
2010 gubernatorial campaign
On Sunday, March 9, 2009, he announced his intention to run for Governor of Hawaii instead of running for an 11th term. 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.
During his campaign, Abercrombie released his "A New Day in Hawaii Plan", offering a roadmap based on Hawai‘i's values and priorities. The plan was the result of conversations with thousands of people and many hours of research. Abercrombie met with business people, entrepreneurs, economists, principals, teachers, parents, academics, public employees, farmers, nonprofit leaders, health professionals, students, seniors, conservationists, cultural practitioners, construction workers, and citizens of all backgrounds. He also held dozens of issue forums and meetings on every island to hear from residents about their concerns and hopes for Hawai‘i.
On November 2, 2010, Neil Abercrombie defeated his Republican opponent Duke Aiona by a margin of 57.8% to 40.8% to become Hawaii's 7th governor. On November 3, 2010, during his victory speech, Governor-elect Abercrombie credited numerous individuals with his success, including the founder of the Department of Religion at the University of Hawaii Manoa, Dr. Mitsuo Aoki.
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 into 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 investigations into President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. A spokesperson for Abercrombie said he would ask the office of the Attorney General what they can do. 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".
According to one poll his approval rating dropped steadily during his first year in office.
In February 2011 Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions. His predecessor, Linda Lingle, had previously vetoed the legislation. In 2013, he called the Hawaii Legislature into a special session to consider a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, which he signed into law on November 13.
Upon the death of longtime Senator Daniel Inouye Abercrombie was given the task of appointing a replacement. The State Democratic Party gave him a list of three finalists and chose Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz, who is now the senior U.S. Senator from Hawai‘i.
Abercrombie was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Council of Governors and is currently serving a 2012-2014 term. The council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard.
In November 2013, Abercrombie was named to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a select group of governors, mayors and other leaders who will develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts. Hawaii also signed onto the Majuro Declaration as a U.S. Climate Leader in September of that year, making the state the first sub-national government to sign.
After an intense special session, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill that legalized marriage for same-sex couples in the State of Hawai‘i. Stating: “The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States. Many people have worked tireless to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives.” The new law takes effect on December 2, 2013. Hawaii was the 15th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
In a hard-fought primary on August 9, 2014, Abercrombie was defeated by state senator David Ige taking just 31% of the vote to Ige's 67%, making him the first incumbent governor to lose a primary in 2014 and the first ever in Hawaii's history.
In 1981, Abercrombie married Nancie Caraway, who is a political scientist and feminist writer at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa's Globalization Research Center. He and Dr. Caraway are the proud walkers of their Shetland sheepdog, Kanoa.
In 2006 Abercrombie was named "Scot of the Year" by the Caledonian Society of Hawaii.
- DePledge, Derrick (September 18, 2010). "Blowout: Abercrombie to face Aiona after trouncing Hannemann". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
- Kerr, Keoki (April 29, 2013). "Abercrombie launches re-election campaign as GOP opponents mull running against him". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- Ancestry.com. abercrombie "Ancestries of Members of the United States House of Representatives: Neil A. Abercrombie". RootsWeb. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Abercrombie for Governor. "About Neil Abercrombie". Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Ripley, Amanda (April 9, 2008). "The Story of Barack Obama's Mother". Time: 2. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- "Governor's Biography". Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- "Politician's big yellow taxi replaced by a leased SUV". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. August 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-13. (Subscription required)
- Rudin, Ken (2006-09-27). "Democrats Poised to Make Gubernatorial Gains". NPR. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Roll call vote 145, via Clerk.House.gov
- Roll call vote 455, via Clerk.House.gov
- H.R. 1312
- Camire, Dennis (March 17, 2008). "Abercrombie seeks Vatican's view on torture". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Roll call vote 378, via Clerk.House.gov
- Roll call vote 398, via Clerk.House.gov
- "Hawai'i congressmen divided over Patriot Act". Honolulu Advertiser. Associated Press. December 14, 2005. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- H.R. 676
- DePledge, Derrick (March 2, 2010). "Abercrombie files papers, calls for furlough action". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Mari, Roger (March 9, 2009). "Neil Abercrombie formally announces run for Hawaii governor's seat". HawaiiNewsNow.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Abercrombie, Neil. "A New Day in Hawaii Plan". State of Hawaii. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- DePledge, Derrick (September 18, 2010). "Blowout: Abercrombie to face Aiona after trouncing Hannemann". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- State of Hawaii Office of Elections (September 29, 2010). "PRIMARY ELECTION 2010 - State of Hawaii - Statewide: FINAL SUMMARY REPORT". Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Toeplitz, Shira (September 19, 2010). "Abercrombie triumphs in Hawaii". Politico.com. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- State of Hawaii Office of Elections (November 16, 2010). "GENERAL ELECTION - State of Hawaii – Statewide: FINAL SUMMARY REPORT". Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- DePledge, Derrick (November 4, 2010). "Abercrombie wins all but 1 district". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Shikina, Rob (December 25, 2010). "Requests increase for Obama birth proof". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
- "Governor halts Obama-birth effort". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. January 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- "Abercrombie's job approval rating at lowest level for U.S. governors". StarAdvertiser. October 21, 2011.
- Reyes, B.J. (February 24, 2011). "'Today is an amazing day'". Honolulu Star-Advertiser 130 (24). p. A1. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- "Nation's Governors Welcome New Council of Governors Appointments" (Press release). National Governors Association (NGA). 2011-03-09.
- "FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Climate Preparedness" (Press release). The White House. 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- "Hawaii first sub-national government to sign Majuro Declaration". KITV. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Lincoln, Mileka (2013-10-28). "Hawaii lawmakers begin gay marriage special session". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Lincoln, Mileka (2013-09-09). "Abercrombie calls for special session on same-sex marriage". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- Garcia, Oscar (2013-11-12). "Gov. signs bill legalizing gay marriage in Hawaii". Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
- "Gov. Abercrombie Signs Historic Marriage Equity Legislation into Law" (Press release). Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii. 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-111-27. Check date values in:
- Sullivan, Sean. "Hawaii governor falls to Democratic primary challenger". www.washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- Lovett, Ian. "Hawaiian Governor Loses Primary by Wide Margin; Senate Race Is Undecided". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- "NANCIE E. CARAWAY MARRIED TO NEIL ABERCROMBIE". New York Times. July 19, 1981. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Eisele, Albert (July 5, 2005). "Menendez: Turn the tables on journos". The Hill. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Crisitunity (September 17, 2010). "SSP Daily Digest: 9/17". Swing State Project. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- "Abercrombie takes oath to become Hawaii's 7th governor". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. December 6, 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Caledonian Society of Hawaii (March 12, 2009). "Scots of the Year". Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Neil Abercrombie.|
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st congressional district
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 1st congressional district
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for Governor of Hawaii
|Governor of Hawaii