Neil’s been up in the polls but that’s not necessarily good enough to win in this state. When we have an undecided vote, it often is not undecided. It might be Asian-American folks who don’t like to answer polls that are called in. I am telling anyone who asks me that I think it’s going to be very close and I won’t be surprised if either one of them wins. And Mufi’s got significantly more money and he really owns the airwaves. That’s going to be a big factor.
Duke Aiona on the Republican side has his nomination locked up. How would he fare against either Democrat?
All the polls that have been run so far with Aiona against Abercrombie or Hannemann show either Democrat will beat Aiona rather handily.
You wrote in a recent post that the Hawaiian media has been missing a lot of the key issues this election. What have they been missing, and what have they focused on instead?
My criticism really had to do with something we’ve been talking about ad nauseum on my PBS program: the media’s been shrinking. We were a two-newspaper town until about six months ago; we’re now a one newspaper town. A lot of good journalists were left out in the cold. The one newspaper is doing as good a job as it can. But there aren’t as many voices out there asking questions and writing profiles.
We have four television stations and two of those have been combined to one newsroom. I’ve worked for both of these organizations as a stringer, and now there just aren’t as many reporters, and that causes trouble. It’s also a younger generation of journalists and I just don’t think we’re getting to as many of the issues that are important. We’re talking too much about civil unions and not enough about education. We have educational challenges out here that are very, very, real; that’s half of our state budget. The state pays for education in Hawaii, not local areas.
And it hasn’t been a major campaign issue?
I think both the candidates for the Democratic side, and Aiona on the Republican side, haven’t said much about it, and I don’t think they’re getting asked about it.
What’s the net effect of this media shrinkage?
It’s the most chaotic election we’ve ever had. There are so many open seats at various levels—boy, some of the races are really getting lost.