That Civil Beat story of a dust-up between Gov. David Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green reminded me of Jean King’s time in the #2 slot and the frequent hard times between her and Gov. George Ariyoshi.
The main issues are a bit different. King thought the governor made some seriously wrong moves such as the Kohala Task Force and wasn’t sufficiently progressive. Green simply has his own opinions about ways to combat Covid-19 and they haven’t always meshed with the epidemiology advice Ige gets from his top two disease fighters, Dr. Sarah Park and State Health director Bruce Anderson.
But the underlying irritant is the same. Governors don’t like to be publicly second-guessed by their #2s. And the #2s generally are feathering their publicity nest to run for #1.
Added is that #1 and #2 are not the result of an in-house running team like the President and Vice President of the U.S. are. Presidential nominees get to pick a running mate. Hawaii lets the voters pick one and the nominee is stuck with that. Some times it works. Sometimes — not so well.
Jean King was the first female elected to be lieutenant governor and as a very progressive Democrat in a rapidly “progressivizing” Democratic society, she probably saw herself on track to be the next #1.
It was in her blood to speak up for liberalism. She had worked for Harry Bridges of the ILWU, when that union was considered by many in Washington to be one step away from the Communist Party.
In 1950, King campaigned to be a delegate to Hawaii’s constitutional convention. Her platform included equal rights for women, strong individual and minority group rights, and unsegregated school systems.
She lost, went back to school, then made a political comeback by being elected first to the State House and then to the Senate.
When she got to the LG’s office, she found herself surrounded by heavyweight Democrats who had turned more conservative than they’d been in previous years. Ariyoshi wasn’t making all the waves his campaign had led voters to suspect. King became the outspoken champion of the very liberal elements.
She refuted Ariyoshi on environmental issues and affordable housing. She insisted more be done to help the homelessness.
So she ran against Ariyoshi in the next primary — and lost by a lot.
Green would not be running against Ige, who will be termed out in ‘22. But party leaders might have someone else in mind and expect Ige to tamp down Green’s public exposure. Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s already an announced candidate. Colleen Hanabusa is always a possible, although she’s told me she’d be done with future politics if she were elected mayor this year.
We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out.