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Hawaii Democrats Face Tough Battles For Governor, Senate

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HONOLULU (AP) — As the final days of campaigning drew to a close in Hawaii’s dramatic primary races, a pair of big storms thrashed toward the islands.

The storms posed considerable risk, but for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, they also represented an opportunity to cast himself as a steady leader with a strong emotional connection to people in the state.

He hugged military response personnel, emphasized his national network of contacts and, even as forecasters predicted the storms would weaken and veer away, Abercrombie reminded everyone to remain vigilant.

Whether this final image will be decisive for voters casting ballots on Saturday was not yet known. The incumbent governor faces a surprisingly strong challenge from a fellow Democrat and many voters had already cast ballots during early voting before Tropical Storm Iselle hit the islands.

The governor’s race was not the only one splitting the Democratic Party establishment during Saturday’s primary. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz to determine who will fill the rest of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term.

The winners of each race will face Republicans and independent candidates in the November general election, but such campaigns are longshots in heavily Democratic Hawaii.

Schatz has outspent Hanabusa by more than $1 million, and his ads dominated the airwaves.

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