Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has blamed his primary loss on his decision to call lawmakers to debate a gay marriage bill.

Hawaii's open primary allows Republicans to vote for Democrats.

“Republicans crossed over en masse to vote in the Democratic primary, and then the religious factor came in,” he is quoted by the AP as saying. “Doctrinally I was outside the circle and paid for it.”

Abercrombie said that Republican voters were urged by religious leaders to vote for his party rival, state Senator David Ige, who is viewed as a weaker opponent in the general election.

Abercrombie lost to Ige by a 2-1 margin, marking the first time a Democratic governor last lost his party's primary.

However, he said he has no regrets.

“There's no way I could live with myself if I thought I was diminishing another human being's ability to reach their full capacity,” he said.

Ige will face James “Duke” Aiona, a strong opponent of marriage equality, in the general election.

Last year, Abercrombie signed Hawaii's marriage equality law.