Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trouble In Paradise-- Will Liebermanism Re-Infect Hawai'i?


Hawai'i has been a solidly Democratic bastion for as long as I can remember; and that's long. Bush didn't do very well there-- only 37% in 2000 and 45% in 2004-- but he looked like a champ compared to McCain who only managed to eke out a meager 26.6% of the vote. When progressive Democrat Neil Abercrombie decided to cash in his long House career and run for governor this year, Hawaii's most ambitious political hack, came screaming into the race. Case once represented the other (non-Honolulu) Hawaiian congressional district, but he gave up that seat to run against much-loved Daniel Akaka. Akaka is a progressive and Case is as far right as you can be and still be a Democrat. Akaka kicked his ass. Case is also awash in K Street lobbyist connections.

Case would prefer to run for Senate and is said to check the newspaper every day when he wakes up to see if the 85 year old Senator Daniel Inouye died overnight. His campaign against Akaka in 2006 revolved around Akaka's vote against attacking Iraq. Case said that had he been in the Senate he would have supported Bush's proposal to start the war against Iraq. Case was a consistent aisle crosser on important matters while he served in the House and seemed more comfortable voting with Republicans than with Democrats. Although he had one of the worst attendance records of any member of Congress, he consistently supported the GOP on job-killing trade legislation and on special interests legislation like abolishing the estate tax for the super-rich, making it easier for banksters to rip off consumers, screwing over working families on pensions and GOP proposals to shift the tax burden to the middle class. He generally voted with the most reactionary Democrats when they joined the GOP to stifle reform and anyone who likes Chamber of Commerce pawns and Patriot Act-type Dems like Dan Boren and Jim Marshall will be perfectly happy with Ed Case-- especially if xenophobia and war-mongering and making sure that victims of big corporations have no recourse to the courts are your cup of tea to boot.

The best shot Democrats have in defeating this slimy Republican-in-Democrats'-clothing is with State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa. The problem is that the Republicans have a strong candidate in Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou. He isn't strong enough to win the seat against a Democrat but if there's a special election, whomever gets the most votes-- among Hanabusa, Case and Djou, is the congressman. Case is likely to play the role of spoiler by splitting the Democratic vote, allowing Djou to squeak in. This weekend mainstays of the state party tried to prevent that with a unified front in favor of Hanabusa. Both the state's beloved U.S. Senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, strongly endorsed Hanabusa.
At the opening of Hanabusa's campaign headquarters on Ward Avenue, Inouye, the state's leading Democrat, praised her skill as a labor attorney and Senate president and described her as a politician who keeps her word.

"It's good currency. You can count on it," he said. "She's got integrity. She's a very principled woman."
Inouye spoke in unusually personal terms about Case, a moderate Democrat who has alienated many in the party's establishment.

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. Case has said he never told the delegation he would not run against Akaka, only that he was keeping his options open.

Inouye and Akaka were joined by virtually the entire Hawai'i political establishment and by the state's powerful union leaders. They painted Case, accurately, as a bad faith player, an outright liar no one in Congress trusts and someone who never learned to be a team player for the good of his constituents.

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