Case vs. Akaka: Another Worst-Case Scenario?

Squeezed January 21, 2006

2006 was looking to be a quiet year in Island politics. Our GOP governor, Linda Lingle, wasn’t facing any real opposition in November, and if the election were held today she would all but win the election by default.

And suddenly, a bombshell hit, and the Democrats sprang to life. The main event is proving not to be Lingle vs. TBD on November 7, but Ed Case vs. Dan Akaka on September 23.

OK, I don’t get it. The Democrats can’t find anyone stupid brave enough to challenge Linda Lingle. Yet, now we have everyone and his brother running for what will be a vacant seat in the 2nd District. What’s wrong with this picture? Obviously the lack of a “resign to run” law for the U.S. Congress has something to do with it, but should Democrats concede Washington Place in favor of the U.S. Capitol?

Case is definitely not getting much support from his co-workers Sen. Daniel Inouye and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, both of whom are behind Akaka. And the core of the Democratic party, the old guard, who hold grudges against him for not playing nice with them, aren’t really supporting him either.

But I say don’t count Case out yet. He definitely has popular support here in Hawaii and name recognition in the state. In fact, if not for 2,000 votes in the September 2002 primary out of about 180,000, he would have been the Democratic standard-bearer instead of Mazie Hirono. That would have been an interesting race…moderate Democrat vs. moderate Republican. And maybe he would be the one defending Washington Place rather than Lingle.

Make no mistake, politics in Hawaii have changed. Case and Lingle both ran on themes of change in 2002. Democrats didn’t get the message and lost Washington Place as a result. But I honestly think that rather than having an bloody internecine battle among Democrats, that Hawaii would be better served by having the race that we should have had in 2002…Case vs. Lingle. But that’s just me.

Case brings up the need to begin a process of transition, and that it’s needed is true. Daniel Inouye and Dan Akaka aren’t going to be around forever, and he probably wants to avoid a situation like that of the late Sen. Spark Matsunaga. But they don’t feel that their work is done yet. Akaka, in particular, still has his namesake bill on his plate, which has still not become law. Good luck trying to get him to retire before it becomes the law of the land. This is supposed to be his legacy, after all.

In the end, though, I will probably support Case in his campaign. I voted for him in 2002 both for governor and for Congress. But I’m still not entirely convinced that running for the U.S. Senate is so well advised.

Ed Case’s opponent in his first state House race in 1994 was Toni Worst of the Hawaii Green Party. I swear I am not making this up. That race was truly a “Worst-Case scenario.” I hope this doesn’t become another one.

3 Responses to “Case vs. Akaka: Another Worst-Case Scenario?”

  1. Lynn Vasquez Says:

    I’ll be supporting Ed Case too!

    Lynn Vasquez

  2. Neruda Says:

    Ed Case has been allowed to frame this issue as if he is a “rebel” against the Democratic “Establishment.” That’s convenient,little bit “hip,” and may play well with some haole “liberals” but Ed is opposed to many Democratic core values. His favorite US Senator is Joe Lieberman, so if you look at Lieberman’s record, you might get a good forecast of what a Senator Case would look like.

    Ed’s beliefs are not simply at odd with the Democratic “brass” as the Advertiser’s editors have said. Ed’s views are at odds with the Democratic Party’s base membership. If Ed could win over a majority of Hawaii’s Democratic voters to support his views, well I’d accept it and vote for him. But he can’t.

    Instead, Ed will be relying on a large Republican cross-over vote in the Democratic primary. While this is legal under Hawaii law, it is pretty unprincipled. Republicans should stay on their side of the fence and pick their favorite candidate. Democrats should pick their own candidate without Republican interference.

    From the beginning of his political career, including the Toni Worst- Ed Case race in Manoa, people have questioned Ed’s commitment to Democratic values. He has always been a “moderate Republican” in outlook, but it has been more convenient for him to run as a Dem. And he can only succeed, even within a Democratic primary, with widespread Republican support.

    But hey, Joe Lieberman wouldn’t have been elected to the Senate over Lowell Weicker without the strong support of Bill Buckley and other Republican activists either.

    Again, if you like Lieberman, you’ll like Case.

  3. eric Says:

    I wish Case would have run for Governor this year, instead. He, like many of the Democrats in the state of Hawaii, knows one thing: Linda Lingle has deep mainland pockets for her campaign. If he went up against her, he would not have the cash to do so. He is also trying to position himself as the incumbent in 2010 or 2012 when Lingle goes after one of the Senatorial Seats (with her mainland money). Case is more fiscally conservative than Lingle, and so I would support him for Governor. He, is not brave enough to go toe to toe with someone who has let down the people of Hawaii too often. At least he throws us a bone once in a while in congress.

    I know that Case is a Fasi-type Indepeno-Republo-Crat. He has really been for himself and ran that way in Manoa for years. He won the sympathy vote twice and is in his place for that reason.

    It is funny because he is as much of a Democrat as Lingle is a Republican. His trip to Iraq reminded me much of her trip there. They both used their party label to get elected. I think, the Alaska decision aside, Akaka is closer to Democratic values than Case. I am supporting him because he has more integrity. Case is not the person that shows on his label. He never was.

    I did not support his bid for Congress because the country really does not need any more “compassionate” hawk conservatives. The state, on the other hand still needs a lot of help.

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