Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is facing pressure from the Democratic former governor of her state Neil Abercrombie to resign from Congress over concerns that she cannot fully represent her district as she carries out her presidential campaign.
According to Politico, Neil Abercrombie on Monday called on presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard to immediately resign from her seat in Congress so the state can hold a special election to replace her. Running for president she is “not able to do the job for the 2nd District,” says Abercrombie.
Abercrombie who led the state from 2010 to 2014, said before speaking publicly in a news conference in Hawaii, he personally phoned Gabbard and left a message asking that she immediately resign from her seat in Congress so the state can hold a special election to replace her. Abercrombie said Gabbard has not attended votes in the House and she’s been largely absent from Congress, and cited her previous decision not to see re-election as a sign she is not fully invested in her position. Abercrombie noted that she has missed more than 85 percent of votes since October.
“I’ve left a detailed message for her as to what I was thinking, what I was doing and what I hoped she would do,” Abercrombie told Politico in a phone interview following his announcement. “I’m sure she pays attention to her voicemail.”
Abercrombie, a former longtime House member, said his decision comes from his experience as an ex-special election candidate and a gubernatorial candidate who himself resigned from Congress.
“Trying to do my job in Washington and run for office, another office, in Hawaii was just too difficult. I couldn’t do it,” he recalled. “I had hoped maybe I could do it, and it became obvious that I couldn’t. So I resigned my seat.”
Abercrombie serves as co-chair of state Sen. Kai Kahele’s congressional campaign to succeed Gabbard. But the former governor stressed that he concluded that Gabbard should resign on his own.
“He didn’t ask me to do it. I didn’t ask him whether he thought it was OK for me to do it,” Abercrombie said of Kahele. “Whether it’s good for him or not good for him, I don’t know. I think what’s good for the people of the 2nd District should be the primary question, and I’m sure he agrees with that.”
Abercrombie acknowledged, however, that he gave Kahele a heads-up and said he would support him if Gabbard were to resign and Kahele were to run in the special election.
“We have a new mail-in ballot system now in Hawaii so I think we can hold a special election pretty conveniently and at reasonable cost,” Abercrombie said. “The cost by not having representation … severely outweighs any logistical or mechanical problems associated with running a special election.”
Gabbard’s congressional office pushed back against Abercrombie’s statement and indicated she would continue to serve in Congress, crediting her for securing “major legislative wins for Hawaii this session, such as improving reporting on Red Hill aquifer protection and helping veterans impacted by toxic burn pits.
“Hawaii is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s home and her heart,” said T. Ilihia Gionson, Gabbard’s Hawaii communications director. “Her pursuit of the highest office in the land has not compromised her and her team’s commitment to serving the people of Hawaiʻi in her fourth term in Congress.”