Monday, July 14, 2014

EMILY's List Teams Up With Christian Coalition In Hawaii


Three of the four Hawaii state senators who voted against marriage equality last year: Mike Gabbard, Donna Kim, Sam Slom

Last Thursday night, backward and reactionary congressional candidate Donna Kim told PBS Hawaii viewers she opposes marriage equality based on her Catholic faith. The very next morning she was endorsed by EMILY's List, a nominally pro-choice organization.

When Stephanie Schriock described Kim as “pro-choice” in the group’s endorsement statement, it was more than a desperate stretch; many in Hawaii were shocked. That term has rarely, if ever, been used to describe to Kim, a state senator who's been in various elected offices for 30 years. Kim has never been endorsed by the Patsy T. Mink PAC, which supports pro-choice women seeking election to the Hawaii state legislature. Kim regularly campaigns at vehemently anti-Choice fundamentalist churches, and even partners with them in her official capacity.

Indeed, it hasn't been clear Kim is even pro-contraception. In 2012, when seeking the endorsement of the anti-choice Hawaii Family Forum, she described herself as undecided on whether rape victims should be entitled to emergency contraception. She very pointedly hasn’t commented on the Hobby Lobby decision.

Schriock, who apparently knows as little about Hawaii politics as her organization knew about Memphis when they waded into an anti-semitic campaign there with their bulging wallets wide open, also described Kim as "pro-labor" and "pro-education," which was equally surprising to anyone watching this race for an open seat in Hawaii's First Congressional District.

Kim is well known for railing against public-employee unions and what she regards as excess in social services and public education. In fact, that's probably what she's most known for (well, in addition to corruption, always a big turn-on for EMILY's List). Opposition to public investment is certainly what she wants to be known for, as she brings it up at every opportunity. It’s why she’s called “outspoken."

She regularly appears on right-wing media to argue for cuts in government programs with the type of impassioned outrage that would make a Tea Partier blush. As we recently reported, when she appeared on the local Christian Coalition's TV show (as a "very, very special guest"), she exclaimed to the enraptured host that educators “getting paid huge dollars!” She complains to birther-friendly bloggers that educators’ salaries are “bloated.” Her campaign website notes that Kim supports a balanced-budget amendment, which of course would be <ruinous.

On its website, the Christian Coalition describes Kim as "fantastic." She is the organization's favorite in this race, as she's regarded as the only reliable anti-LGBT candidate of any party.

So Hawaii is seeing a partnership of EMILY's List and the Christian Right for the first time. Donna Kim is the Nikki Tinker of the Pacific, the face of EMILY's List's downward trajectory.

Kim has been leading the polls, based on name recognition and corporate cash. But the PBS Hawaii debate-- the first televised event featuring all seven Democratic candidates-- was many voters' initial opportunity to focus on the race. Contentious primaries for governor and U.S. Senate have been dominating local headlines. Honolulu media outlets have reported on Kim’s status as a former homecoming queen and her “nifty” TV ads, but haven’t examined her record. So, some observers were shocked by Kim's articulation of across-the-board conservatism (even though it’s consistent with her voting record).

Meanwhile, the debate was Stanley Chang's coming-out party. The 31-year-old first-term Honolulu City Councilmember impressed viewers with his clearly stated views, deep knowledge of issues and proud progressivism. While the others equivocated or appeared to attack Obamacare from the right, Chang stood out by advocating for single-payer health care. He also said he seeks an inclusive version of immigration reform and humane solutions to homelessness.


PBS Hawaii has a Storify page with more real-time reaction to the debate. Browse #HI01 and #PBSinsights on Twitter for more.

With just a few weeks left before the August 9 primary election, Chang is poised to finish strong. He's a tireless campaigner. In his 2010 City Council race, he scored an upset victory over a well-established attorney (who had more endorsements and money) by knocking on every door in the district. And he has the backing of the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and the new Climate Hawks Vote PAC (which is opening an office in Honolulu), as well as Blue America. The momentum is evident on his campaign’s Facebook page. But he'll need more resources now that EMILY's List in the race. Blue America supporters can make the difference.

Stanley Chang with Honolulu attorney Louise Ing, a leading advocate for reproductive health and freedom

UPDATE: What Does EMILY's List Stand For Anyway?

The night before EMILY's List announced their endorsement of the most conservative candidate in the Hawaii congressional race, Kim said on the PBS Insights Forum that if elected, she would fight to get Hawaii exempted from Obamacare. She justified it by saying that pre-paid is a better system in Hawaii, a healthcare system that does not include birth control, which means she would actively pursue an effort that would decrease access to birth control in Hawaii. Go EMILY's List! Go Stephanie Schirock! You've wrecked everything EMILY's List was ever supposed to be.

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