9. Neil Abercrombie

October, 2004

Age: 66
Title: U.S. Representative
Nickname: The Pitbull

Power Surge: You can piss off some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. Once ponytailed and liberal as all get out, Abercrombie used to be the conservatives’ whipping boy. He’s also gotten a fair amount of heat from members of the left, who feel that the onetime waiter, custodian and probation officer has become too much of a centrist. While he’s been raising blood pressure on both sides of the political spectrum, Abercrombie has been building stronger majorities in his district. The answer for his growing popularity is simple: The guy’s got guns. Serving in Congress continually since 1991, Abercrombie is a member of the Committee on Armed Services, where he is ranking member on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee; he is also a member of the Readiness Subcommittee and the Projection Forces Subcommittee. That’s a lot of ammo for a military town such as Honolulu. Abercrombie has secured authorization for more than $2 billion for construction projects on Hawaii military installations (chiefly family housing and bachelor enlisted quarters). The money will be fueling the Islands’ economy for decades.

Power Play: Sen. Daniel Akaka’s imminent retirement will cause a domino effect that will be felt throughout the state’s political landscape, right down to the City Council level. Abercrombie seems a likely choice for senator, but he’s already in his mid-60s, and a move to the other side of the U.S. Capitol would actually cut his power.

Personal Voltage: Hawaii’s state dog is the pitbull. Islanders might complain from time to time, but deep down they love the terrier-like tenacity of their representative. Also, Hawaii voters have never voted out a congressional incumbent, ever.

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