by Andrew Walden
Responding to questions from Richard Borreca and Gina Mangieri about Senator Dan Akaka’s political future on PBS Hawaii Insights last night, Senator Dan Inouye makes it clear that “circumstances have changed” since “The last election (when) I was able to concentrate fully on Senator Akaka.”
Instead of bristling angrily at those who question Akaka’s ability to continue, Inouye notes that Akaka has raised very little campaign money and has not scheduled fundraisers. Inouye lists off several potential Democratic contenders in a 2012 Senate Democratic primary—notably ignoring Ed Case—and says the main problem Democrats will have is trying to keep the number of Democratic Primary contenders “down to a workable number” so Democrats don’t “kill each other.”
Here is the video: LINK (Inouye is asked about Akaka at 39:30)
Here is the transcript starting at 39:30:
Borreca: I have a question that is based both on questions from viewers and also from a Letter to the Editor that appeared a few days ago in the Star-Advertiser. From Kauai we’re asking that: “What should Senator Akaka do?” Linda Estes writes and says “Senator Daniel Akaka should follow the lead of the six Senators who are indicating that they are going to retire and make the same announcement. He has served Hawaii with distinction and he should retire with honor. And he should make the announcement soon so that those Democratic candidates who seek to succeed him can start on a plan.” What’s your reaction to that?
Inouye: Well number one, I’m older than Dan Akaka.
Borreca: I think by two weeks.
Inouye: One week. I’m September 7 he’s September 14. So if you’re talking about age, you know you’re talking about me also. Now, as to his service to our nation, he’s done well. I think the record shows that. There are some who are flamboyant, some who are not. Some who are very vocal and some who are not. The fact that one is flamboyant doesn’t mean that he is successful. The fact that someone is quiet and studious doesn’t mean he’s a weakling or he doesn’t know what he is doing. Because when I first got to the Senate, most of the very powerful Senators hardly said a word. Have you ever herd of a speech by Richard Russell? So…secondly, I have supported him all along and if he should decide to run, I will support him.
That is the rhetorical template Inouye used to beat back Ed Case’s 2006 primary challenge to Akaka. This time it is followed by that magic word, “but”….
But now circumstances have changed. The last election I was able to concentrate fully on Senator Akaka. But now I’m President Pro-Tem, I’m Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and a member of the Leadership Council. And as such they expect me—as one of the leaders of the Senate--to help all Democrats, not just one. And I’ve been doing that even during my own reelection time.
Mangieri: Do you think that would influence for 2012 the kind of assistance you could give, or what does that mean for the next.
Inouye: In the last election, 2006, when Danny Akaka ran I was able to help him in six figures. This time I doubt that.
Borreca: There have been discussions or notice that Senator Akaka has not raised really that much money for a campaign for next year yet. Do you think that is something he has to do. And does that indicate one way or another that he is not going to run?
Inouye: In the usual situation when someone is seeking reelection, fundraising begins four years before election time. And two years before is intense. By the time a year before election comes along, he is fully funded. I have also noted that he has not had fundraisers and according to the disclosure laws whatever he has is less than $100,000.
Mangieri: And what sort of spending do you think this next cycle would need to be in a hard fought primary or general?
Inouye: In Hawaii? I’d say you’d better be prepared to have at least $3 million. You know it’s sad. Because I remember when I first ran for Congress, my budget was $10,000. It’ll never happen again.
Mangieri: Whether through a self imposed retirement or a challenge in a primary, some day there will be a succession. And who do think on the local political landscape would be likely successors or strong contenders?
Inouye: There are many in both parties. On the Democratic side I can see Colleen Hanabusa, I can see Brian Schatz, I can see Mazie Hirono, I can see Neil Abercrombie, I can see Mufi Hannemann. There are dozens of them all worthy men and women. Our problem, I think at this juncture, is to try to keep it down to a workable number. Can you imagine if all six of them or seven of them ran? We’ll kill each other.
Mangieri: You didn’t mention Ed Case.
Inouye: Ed Case. There’s another one too—just brought to my attention—no one here has mentioned it--Tammy Duckworth. She was campaigning the last time. She’s very articulate. She’s a great heroine in the war. She’s a fellow graduate of McKinley, a graduate of the University of Hawaii. So she has legitimate footprints in Hawaii.
As Akaka said when endorsing Hanabusa against Ed Case last January: “Daniel K. Inouye has spoken.”
LTE: U.S. Sen. Akaka should retire
Political Radar: `Circumstances have changed’
SA: Inouye doubts he can help Akaka as much with 2012 fundraising
Hawai’i Free Press Feb 1 News Read
- Cook Political Report: Lingle vs. Akaka is a Toss Up
- Akaka is not fundraising
Bob Jones: Dan Akaka should resign, let Abercrombie name replacement (Feb 21)
If Akaka resigns, Gov. Neil Abercrombie gets a replacement pick. Given today’s players, that would have to be either Mufi Hannemann for good political sportsmanship, or Mazie Hirono or Colleen Hanabusa because they are there in Washington and know the game.
The wild card would be Ed Case. Unacceptable? You can’t say that because in an open 2012 field he could split the ticket as he did in the 2010 Congress primary. Why not bring him into the tent?
He’s not the game player he once was. Ask those who interview him these days. He’s not playing at the same level as his age mate, Dan Inouye. Nice as they come, but not tough enough and focused enough. He just got dumped from Veterans Affairs.
He’d likely get crushed in 2012 by either Lingle or Case as younger, more-Internet-active voters come along. Not just beaten, mind you, crushed. The party leaders know this.
TOTALLY RELATED: Pensions, Rail, Earmarks: Abercrombie and Obama wage war on Inouye
HFP: Case implies Hanabusa campaign is dirty and negative