Backed by Obama, Hawaii Governor Ousted in Unprecedented Primary Loss

Image: Neil Abercrombie, David Ige
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, left, addresses the supporters of Hawaii State Sen. David Ige as Ige, right, looks on Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Honolulu. Ige defeated incumbent Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie in the state's primary election to win the Democratic Party's nomination. Eugene Tanner / AP

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A 40-year political career came to a close after Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie lost his bid for a second term in a stunning primary-election defeat by a fellow Democrat and state senator who defied party leadership to challenge the incumbent. A second intraparty fight for U.S. Senate was too close to call.

State Sen. David Ige, once seen as an underdog, cruised to a decisive 35 percentage point win in Saturday's primary after being dramatically outspent by Abercrombie, who also had high-profile endorsements including President Barack Obama. Ige said his win "proves that people power can be money power, especially in Hawaii."

Tropical Storm Iselle, which pounded parts of the state earlier this week, also delivered a bizarre twist to Hawaii's election, leaving the heated contest between incumbent Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa too close to declare a winner. In an unprecedented move, elections officials postponed voting in two precincts in the remote Puna region of the Big Island, deciding that damaged roads would make it unsafe for voters to get to the polls. With Schatz holding only a narrow lead over Hanabusa, both candidates will have to wait for the results from mail-in ballots that will be sent to as many as 8,255 registered voters there, then returned and tabulated.

Both races divided the state's dominant Democratic Party and offered voters a choice between the political establishment and a new generation of leaders. Abercrombie called his four years as governor "a singular honor," and pledged in an email to help Ige "with every ounce of energy I possess."

Abercrombie is the first Hawaii governor to lose to a primary challenger and only the second not to win re-election. His defeat comes after Obama last month cut a radio ad for Abercrombie, invoking the Hawaiian word for family to tell voters in his native state that Abercrombie is "like ohana to me."

— The Associated Press