By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU — Hawaii’s Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman is running for governor in the 2014 election.
Sen. David Ige is the first to step forward to challenge Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary. Abercrombie formally launched his campaign in April, saying he’s built momentum coming out of recession and wants it to continue with a second term. Meanwhile, Ige holds a powerful position in the committee that shapes Hawaii’s budget and handles fiscal measures.
The 56-year-old engineer announced his candidacy Tuesday from his Aiea home.
“As my family and I contemplated whether to run for governor, we spoke with many friends and neighbors,” he said in his announcement. “Through those conversations, I realized that people here in Hawaii are hungry for a governor they can believe in and trust.”
He has represented Aiea and Pearl City in the Senate since 1994. He also represented the area in the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1994. Ige said nearly 30 years in the Legislature has prepared him to take this next step.
“I have always had a strong desire and commitment to do more as a leader of our state,” he said in a statement.
Abercrombie’s campaign manager, Bill Kaneko, said in a statement the campaign welcomes Ige, and his long career as a state senator, into the race.
“Under Gov. Abercrombie’s strong leadership, the state’s fiscal situation is stabilized, the economy is growing and the residents of Hawaii are enjoying a period of prosperity and optimism,” Kaneko said.
Ige said his candidacy isn’t about running against Abercrombie, but about pursuing his first statewide bid for office at a time that’s right for him, personally and professionally.
“I am looking for a bigger challenge,” he said in an interview. “I have worked under many governors and I have a sense of what characteristics make people successful.”
He has chaired committees including those on education, technology, consumer protection and Hawaiian affairs.
He and his wife Dawn have three children.