- Was elected Governor of Hawaii in 2010
- Served as U.S. Congressman (D – Hawaii) from 1991-2010
- Was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Has close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America
Neil Abercrombie was born in June 1938 in Buffalo, New York. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Union College in 1959, he took a job as a schoolteacher. Abercrombie went on to obtain a master’s degree in sociology in 1964 and a Ph.D. in American studies ten years later—both at the University of Hawaii. While there, he became a close friend of Barack Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann Dunham, the parents of future U.S. President Barack Obama.
Motivated by his opposition to the Vietnam War, Abecrombie in 1970 ran (unsuccessfully) for a U.S. Senate seat (representing Hawaii) against Republican Hiram Fong. In 1974 Abercrombie was elected to the Hawaiian legislature, and four years later he won a state senate seat. In 1986 he was victorious in a special election for Congress to fill the unexpired term of Rep. Cecil Heftel. After serving three-and-a-half months in that post, Abercrombie was defeated in the Democratic primary for the full term by Mufi Hanneman. Next, Abercrombie was elected to serve on the Honolulu city council from 1988 to 1990.
In 1990 Abercrombie won a seat in Congress (representing Hawaii’s First District, which encompassed downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor). In the House of Representatives, he became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).
At the 1992 Democratic Party convention, Abercrombie delivered what was reported to be an “extemporaneous, impassioned speech” to a “Socialist Caucus” explicity organized by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). All of the other speakers at this event were DSA members: Bob Fitrakis, Ed Vargas, and Cornel West.
On September 27, 1995, Abercrombie—along with Congressional Representatives Bernie Sanders and Maxine Waters—was a guest speaker at the first in a national series of DSA town meetings on economic security.
Abercrombie was the only member of either the House or Senate to vote against a February 15, 2006 resolution saying that the United States should withhold financial aid from the Palestinian Authority in light of the fact that the latter was now controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization that unambiguously called for Israel’s destruction.
On May 23, 2006, Abercrombie joined just 36 other House members in voting against the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act prohibiting U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government “until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and accepts all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.” The measure was supported by 361 House members and passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.
On July 20, 2006, Abercrombie voted “No” on House Resolution 921 that his fellow congressmen approved overwhelmingly (by a margin of 410-8) and the Senate passed unanimously. This Resolution condemned Hezbollah and Hamas for launching unprovoked acts of war against the Jewish State; it also called for the U.S. to help disarm Hezbollah and to impose diplomatic and economic sanctions on Hezbollah’s state sponsors, Iran and Syria.
Abercrombie has served as a board member of Amnesty International, an organization which has often accused Israel of human-rights violations. He is also a member of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
When Senator Barack Obama ran for U.S. President in 2008, Abercrombie was honorary chair of the Hawaii Obama Campaign.
In early 2009 Abercrombie announced that he planned to run for the office of Hawaii Governor in 2010. In that election, he defeated Republican opponent James Aiona by a margin of 57.8 percent to 40.8 percent.
To view some significant highlights of Abercrombie’s legislative voting record in the House of Representatives, click here.
For additional information on Neil Abercrombie, click here.