by Andrew Walden
Endorsing Colleen Hanabusa (D-Koolina), Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) Saturday claimed "She's got integrity. She's a very principled woman." This may come as quite a surprise to readers of Governor Ben Cayetano's (D-HI) autobiography, in which he ties Hanabusa's Broken Trust connections to her dealings on behalf of Jeff Stone's Ko'olina project. But Ed Case's ire was raised to challenge Inouye's "recollection of the facts" on another matter.
In an email blast sent out this morning, Case claims, "There is and must be a better way forward than just more old-style control politics." Case challenges Inouye's recitation of the 2006 Case vs Akaka primary campaign--which had been recounted in the January 10 Honolulu Advertiser:
Inouye said Case insisted on running in a special election in 2002 to fill the remaining weeks in the late U.S Rep. Patsy Mink's term, even though many party leaders wanted Mink's husband, John, to have the honor. Case — interested in obtaining seniority — won the special election, and then a second special election in early 2003 to replace Mink in Congress.
Inouye said the state's congressional delegation welcomed Case but was let down. The senator said Case told the delegation he wasn't going to run against Akaka in the 2006 primary for Senate, then surprisingly announced his campaign....
Inouye said Case's previous actions, particularly the challenge to Akaka, "cut deep into me."
In response Case claims,
I entered that race because just the few weeks of extra seniority from that remainder term (which I gained and still have) was crucial for Hawai‘i. John [Mink] filed after I announced, but said he would not run again so that the benefits of seniority would be lost. He was talked into the race by those who supported others for election to Congress. They, including my present opponent, then called on me to withdraw (and my opponent then ran against me). Senator Inouye, though, did not ask me to withdraw.
...in mid-'05, in my second full term in Congress, Sen. Inouye convened a delegation meeting in D.C. among himself, Sen. Akaka, Rep. Abercrombie and me. He stated that I was the delegation's and Democrats' choice to run for Hawai‘i Governor in '06 and asked me to do so. I replied that I deeply appreciated his confidence, but that I believed my best contribution lay in continuing my service in Congress. I was then asked directly whether I ruled out running for the Senate in '06, and I replied directly that, while I hadn't decided to do so, I wouldn't rule it out. (I had provided a similar public response earlier that year.) I didn't finally decide to run for the Senate until early '06, at which point, as our public campaign financing reports reflect, we obtained our campaign materials.
I regret my opponent's strategy, which is to distract voters backwards, sideways and in any other direction possible.... I ask her to refocus now on a clean and positive campaign....
So Hanabusa's campaign is now dirty and negative?
Case formally announced his Senate challenge to Dan Akaka (D-HI) on January 19, 2006, but his speculations about running for Senate--and his disinclination to become Democrats' kamikaze candidate against the reelection of Governor Linda Lingle (R-HI) in 2006--began appearing in the local media during his first full term in Congress. Hawaii Reporter, November 13, 2003, reports:
Rumors have been flying that U.S. Congressman Ed Case, D-Second District-Hawaii, would run for governor in 2006 and attempt to unseat Gov. Linda Lingle in her run for a second term. Not likely, he says.
Though he would not completely rule out the idea of running for governor, he says he is enjoying his experience in Congress and plans to remain there, possibly even running for U.S. Senate should a seat become available.
Neil Abercrombie is the remaining silent witness to the 2005 meeting. Will he speak up to defend Case? Or will Abercrombie leave his ally to twist in the wind? The one safe bet is that Abercrombie won't be grilled about this meeting by anybody in Hawaii's pliant and incurious excuse for a media--even though Abercrombie's comments on the dispute would surely be of great interest to many readers.
In spite of his silence, Abercrombie's campaign is beginning to be dragged into the same swamp as Case. After Kona-based Hawaii Democrat leader John Buckstead publicly claimed that Inouye was remaining neutral in the Gubernatorial campaign, Inouye reminded reporters he had encouraged Mufi Hannemann to enter the Primary campaign against Abercrombie and told the Honolulu Advertiser that Neil Abercrombie supporters were "lying". This came on the heels of a December 21 Advertiser article describing extraordinary personal efforts by Abercrombie to defeat the Super-Delegate candidacy of Inouye's chief of staff during the 2008 Hawaii Democratic Convention.
Case's interest in a Senate seat continues in the current election cycle. In a December 18 interview with The Hill, Case said: "I’ve never ruled out the Senate. If there is that opportunity, I’m not going to sit here at the end of 2009 and say I’m not going to be a candidate.” This certainly cuts across the "seniority" argument which Case says is the "core issue" of his campaign. Case then called Hanabusa "clueless".
Case's attack pattern against Hanabusa is reminiscent of Time Magazine April 16, 2006 tagging Dan Akaka "The master of the minor", "Parochial", "proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise" and one of America's five "Worst Senators." Time is part of the Time Warner AOL empire owned in part by Ed's cousin Steve Case.
Within hours of Case's December 18 interview being published, Colleen Hanabusa sent an email to her supporters expressing "concern" about a "special election we cannot afford."
The confidence still is not with Hanabusa---even after receiving the endorsement of Akaka, Inouye, several legislators, and "the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the United Public Workers, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Hawaii Carpenters Union, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, Hawaii Masons Union, Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council, and Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3".
Hanabusa surrogate, Senate Ways and Means Chair Donna Mercado Kim told AP January 9: "I haven't seen too many votes in the House that have been decided by a one-vote difference. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should be without representation, but given everything that's going on, we have to prioritize." If Hanabusa were elected to Congress, Kim would be a leading candidate to replace her as Senate President.
Meanwhile back in Washington, America finds herself embroiled in two wars--and counting. Obamacare "hangs by a thread" in the House. The Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade Carbon Tax awaits a vote in the Senate. Hawaii is seeking billions of dollars of federal funds for several projects political leaders believe the State's future hinges upon. And the new version of the Akaka Bill--over the objection of the Governor and Attorney General--faces a vote in both House and Senate.
So far Djou--the fundraising leader--is the only one of the three to squarely address any of these issues. When Hawaii's Congressional delegates would not hold public meetings on Obamacare, Djou alone stepped forward to fill the breach -- hosting an August 26 meeting of 300 Honolulu residents to hear their healthcare opinions.
Neither Hanabusa nor Case lives in the First Congressional District. With Case again angling for a Senate seat and Hanabusa apparently trying to avoid the Special Election, Republican Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou -- who lives in the District -- is apparently the only candidate who wants both to run in this special election and to represent Hawaii in the US House.
Djou told the Advertiser: "I'm eagerly looking forward to the Democrats in the race tearing themselves to pieces. And I'll be right there to pick up the pieces."
Maybe Hanabusa and Case will next debate which one's "pants are on fire".