Sunday, May 11, 2014

HI-01: Meet The Conservative Who's On The Verge Of Winning In A Deep-Blue District

Bad news for progressives/bad news for Hawai'i

The Hawai`i legislature has passed two major laws within the last year: approving marriage equality and increasing the minimum wage to $10.10.

Both of the achievements were produced by progressives in the Democratic-dominated legislature-- and over the objections of State Senate President Donna Kim.

One might think Kim would be cowering in light of these defeats. But she’s actually bucking for a promotion, as the frontrunner for the open seat in Hawai`i’s First Congressional District-- a solid-Democratic district that gave Barack Obama 70 percent of the vote in both 2008 and 2012.

Kim’s unwavering loyalty to corporate interests and the Religious Right has helped turned her into a prodigious fundraiser. As a result, she has more cash on hand than anyone in the race, and within the last week has started airing her first (issue-free) TV commercial.

While the media focuses on the horse race and lauds Kim for her prowess at generating campaign cash, her right-leaning record has gone unexamined.

As she’s demonstrated throughout her 30-year (!) career in elected office, Kim is anti-LGBT equality, anti-labor and anti-environment. In probably any other state, she’d be a conservative Republican. (How dominant are Democrats in Hawai`i? The state senate over which Kim presides has 24 Dems and just a sole Republican.)

While her campaign website is devoid of issues, her Facebook page gives hints as to her values. She posted a picture on the day she declared her candidacy for Congress (Nov. 6, 2013). Her son was to her immediate right. To her immediate left was theocratic Republican politician Lei Ahu Isa. Subsequent pictures also display her remarkable (for Hawai`i) connections with Republicans. Her Facebook page shows her meeting with current state Rep. Aaron Johanson (one of just seven GOP members in the state house) and at a fundraiser with two members of the cabinet for Gov. Linda Lingle (the only Republican governor the State of Hawai`i has ever had). The page also shows her with substantial GOP donors, with conservative talk-show hosts and at church functions. Much like Colleen Hanabusa (who’s giving up this seat to run for U.S. Senate), Kim is obviously seeking Republican votes in Hawai`i’s open primary on Aug. 9.

Her record is replete with conservative advocacy.

She’s long made clear her support for business interests over labor and environment and desire to have Hawai`i mimic the “business-friendly” policies of Mainland U.S. states (like Mississippi?):

“My first priority to help businesses will be to work with the business community for their suggestions on ways that we can eliminate unnecessary regulations and requirements that make it difficult to run a business. On a long-term note, I will make a comprehensive review of existing laws, compare them with other more business-friendly states and come up with a comprehensive package to make Hawaii attractive to national and international businesses.“
She has a well-earned reputation for trying to humiliate public employees and fight public projects during legislative hearings. Her incessant attacks on the public sector, which often include allegations of unethical conduct, have been praised in conservative media outlets. (Meanwhile, Kim occasionally gets called out on her own ethics.)

Like Hanabusa, she has a close relationship with Hawai`i’s most radical elected official, Republican Sam Slom (Kim’s only GOP colleague in the state senate). As just one example of the Slom-Kim alliance, they spent 30 minutes on video gushing over each other’s opposition to taxes and regulations, with Kim stressing she wants people to see “how hard businesses have it.” Kim has had made other video appearances hosted by the Slom-allied Hawaii Reporter blog.

While long a foe of environmentalists (dating back to her days as a pro-development Honolulu City Councilmember), Kim has been lauded by the Hawaii Christian Coalition (for introducing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage) and New Hope Honolulu (a Christian fundamentalist church where she’s been received as a VIP attendee).

Hardly any of Kim’s right-leaning positions and alliances been reported by in the context of the congressional race by Honolulu media. Even Civil Beat, the online news outlet founded by reform-minded Pierre Omidyar, will only tell you how good Kim’s TV commercial looks. The story doesn’t mention her ad takes no policy positions. Kim’s commercial does make a passing reference to support for “seniors”-- which is ironic given her frequent attacks on “excessive” pensions from the State of Hawai`i.

She developed her fundraising skills while serving as the powerful chair of the City Council’s zoning committee throughout the 1990s, before getting elected to the state senate in 2000. She consistently approved projects proposed by donors, while simultaneously fighting ethics reform. It’s been a winning formula for 30 years. Is it enough to take her all the way to D.C.? Hawai`i’s gushing pundits (who rarely fail to note Kim’s record as a homecoming queen) say yes. Blue America and Hawai`i’s progressive community hope to prove them wrong. If you'd like to contribute to the progressive alternative to Kim, City Councilman Stanley Chang, you can do that right here at the Blue America ActBlue page. Remember, there is no such thing as a contribution too small, at least not among Democrats.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    Isn't 2nd place Mark Takai also a New Hope Church member? Since New Hope seeks to establish a teocracy that worries me.

    Takai is a heck of lot better than Kim, though.

    But Chang is the preferred candidate.