- 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 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 1988-90. In 1990 he won a seat representing Hawaii’s First District in the U.S. House, where he joined 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” explicitly organized by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and where Cornel West also spoke. On September 27, 1995, Abercrombie joined Bernie Sanders and Maxine Waters as a guest speaker at the first in a national series of DSA town meetings on economic security.
Several editions of the DSA newspaper, Democratic Left, described Abercrombie as a “DSAer Democrat.” And former Abercrombie aide George “Skip” Roberts was the long-time DSA representative to the Socialist International. Abercrombie’s wife, Nancie Caraway, was a member of the DSA National Feminist Commission in the mid-1980s. Her 1991 book, Segregated Sisterhood, was dedicated to Abercrombie and to former Communist Party member Bettina Aptheker, among others.
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 the terrorist organization Hamas.
In 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.”
On July 20, 2006, Abercrombie was one of only 8 House members who voted “No” on H.R. 921, which not only condemned Hezbollah and Hamas for launching unprovoked acts of war against the Jewish State, but also called for the U.S. to help disarm Hezbollah and to impose sanctions on Hezbollah’s state sponsors, Iran and Syria.
During his years as a legislator, Abercrombie believed that:
- all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
- public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
- social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
- illegal aliens should be offered amnesty if they have been productive members of society;
- an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards;
- federal spending on infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities;
In 2010 Abercrombie was elected Governor of Hawaii. In October 2011, the Democratic Party-affiliated firm, Public Policy Polling, reported that Abercrombie was the “most unpopular Governor in the country,” with an approval rating of just 30%.
In August 2014, Abercrombie became the first Hawaiian governor ever to lose a primary, when state senator David Ige defeated him by a margin of 66% to 31% — the largest margin of defeat ever suffered by an incumbent U.S. governor.
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.
Further Reading: “Neil Abercrombie” (Votesmart.org, Keywiki.org); “Is Neil Abercrombie Lying? – Further Evidence of Hawaii Candidate’s Connection to Democratic Socialists of America” (TrevorLoudon.com, 8-10-2010); “Hawaii’s Leftist Governor Seeks a Birther Revival” (by Andrew Walden, 12-28-2010, re: DSA ties of Abercrombie and his wife); Neil Abercrombie’s Positions on Key Issues (OnTheIssues.org); “Abercrombie Called ‘Most Unpopular Governor in America’” (Hawaii News Now, 10-21-2011); “Hawaiian Governor Loses Primary by Wide Margin” (NY Times, 8-10-2014).
- Neil Abercrombie, D-Hezbollah
By Malia Zimmerman
July 25, 2006