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Thursday, March 3, 2011
NPR: Senate Exit By Hawaii's Akaka May Open Door For Lingle
By Selected News Articles @ 11:58 AM :: 5450 Views :: Energy, Environment

NPR: Senate Exit By Hawaii's Akaka May Open Door For GOP Ex-Gov Lingle

As the Cook Report's Linda Duffy noted in a National Journal piece, there is a potential cloud on the horizon for Hawaiian Democrats. She is Linda Lingle, the relatively popular former Republican governor of the Aloha State.

Duffy writes:

No race in Hawaii is ever easy for Republicans, and 2012, when favorite son President Obama will be at the top of the ballot, won't be any different. At the same time, the prospect that Lingle may run prevents us from completely writing off the GOP's chances here. She is well known and is a proven fundraiser. Until the candidate fields on both sides become clear, the race will stay in the "Solid Democratic" column, but a Lingle candidacy would force a move to a more competitive rating.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Advertiser points out the reasons why all the Democrats viewed as possible Akaka replacements won't necessarily catch a big wave to victory:

(Former Congressman Ed) Case, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann also have been mentioned as possible Democratic successors. But all of these Democrats have practical or political challenges. Case finished a deflating third in a special election for Congress last year. Hanabusa was just elected to Congress in November. Hirono lost to Lingle in the governor's race in 2002. Schatz was just elected lieutenant governor in November. And Hannemann suffered a staggering loss to Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary for governor in September

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All Democrat candidates have problems

And the bad news for Democrats is that because there are six, there is no consensus leader of the pack and no one with the fundraising ability and appeal of former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

On the Democratic side, all the potential candidates have problems.

Some do well in a general election, but have trouble winning a primary. Others have to make a big decision on whether to risk their entire career against a Republican candidate likely to have almost unlimited help and financial support from mainland political organizations.

Hanabusa, a tough former state Senate president, made four attempts before she was able to capture her congressional seat. She would risk all if she decides to go for the Senate.

Hirono, who has served quietly in the House since 2006, would also risk her political career and with the 2002 race for governor, already has a loss to Lingle on her record.

Case's history is more complicated. He is a former two-term congressman who in 2006 ran unsuccessfully to unseat Akaka. The primary campaign split the local Democratic Party with many old-time Democrats picking Akaka against the younger Case.

Schatz is a former state House member and state Democratic Party chairman. He is a strong campaigner, but has also run unsuccessfully for Congress. Democrats consider him to have potential for a long political career, and he could run for the Senate without having to resign his state office. If Schatz wins the primary, a general election campaign against Lingle is likely to turn into a referendum on the Abercrombie administration.

Finally, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann has previously considered running for the Senate if Akaka stepped down or decided to retire. Unfortunately for Hannemann, the Akaka retirement decision comes after Hannemann gave up his City Hall job for last year's unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Life News: Pro-Abortion Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka Will Retire

538: Hawaii Senate Seat A Likely Hold for Democrats

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Case interested in Senate race, Caldwell to run for House

"It'll give them an opportunity to determine whether or not they can conduct an adequate campaign to be viable candidates," said Dante Carpenter of the Hawaii Democratic Party.

"While some may be curious, there will be plenty of time to discuss my own personal plans in light of his announcement," said former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann in a statement.

"It is premature for me to make such a decision," said Rep. Mazie Hirono in a statement.

Hanabusa didn't address the race but said "He has been a role model to me throughout my own career."

Schatz told KHON2 previously he's 100 percent focused on doing his job as lieutenant governor. Case had this to say:

"I remain interested in serving Hawaii in the U.S. Senate, but today is not the day to make that decision"

2012 already was going to be a shakeup year in Hawaii politics with reapportionment but some local politicians say the national level shakeup could go beyond just this Senate seat.

"I think the two sitting congresswomen will seriously look at a race for the U.S. Senate, and should they, I will seriously look at running for the U.S. House of Representatives," said former acting mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell.

On the Republican side, former Governor Linda Lingle has said she's thinking about running.

She said Wednesday of the retirement, "I wish he and Millie the best as they make plans to return to our island home." She didn't add anything about her own potential candidacy.

"This is the starting line, the gun has gone off," said Jonah Kaauwai of the Hawaii Republican Party. "It's gonna happen shortly, I would have to think, knowing that the election is less than two years away obviously."

HNN: Statements on the retirement of Sen. Dan Akaka

Cook Report:  Hawaii Senate Seat Still Solid Dem Unless Lingle Joins Field

PR: The announcement

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