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Abercrombie to Depart Feb. 28

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) announced Monday that he will resign from the House on Feb. 28 to focus on his gubernatorial bid. The Congressman made it known last month that he would be leaving early but he did not say exactly when. The move sets up a competitive all-party special election to fill his 1st district seat.“Since announcing my intentions, I have consulted closely with the people I have worked with during my 19 years in Congress, including members of the Hawaii congressional delegation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the chairmen of two of my committees,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “I can now set the effective date of my resignation for February 28, 2010, which will enable state elections officials to plan for a timely and cost-effective special election for the First Congressional District to select a successor who will carry on the work of the people.”Hawaii election law calls for a special election to be held at least 70 days after the seat becomes vacant. Due to a state budget crunch, Hawaii election officials have worried that they may not be able to afford holding the special and are looking at cost-saving options such as a vote-by-mail election this spring. Some have floated the idea that the special should be delayed and held to coincide with the regularly scheduled primaries on Sept. 18, an option that would leave the seat vacant for several months. Former Rep. Ed Case, one of two leading Democrats running to succeed Abercrombie, sent an e-mail to supporters Monday stressing the need for the special election to be held before September. “Some have suggested that we don’t need the special election until our regular primary election on September 18th. That demonstrates not only a disrespect for our rights as citizens, but a basic lack of knowledge of how Capitol Hill works and what’s at stake. We should schedule this special election as soon as possible,” Case wrote. Case and former state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa are the two Democrats in the race. Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou (R), who has a shot at winning the special election in the Democratic-leaning district since he would only have to capture a plurality of the vote, also issued a statement in support of a speedy special election. “I encourage the Elections Office to promptly schedule a special election in May and avoid any prolonged delay in representation of Hawaii residents on Capitol Hill, but I am prepared for any date that a special election may be called,— Djou said.

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