Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ConservaDem Tulsi Gabbard's Presidential Ambition To Be Curtailed On Saturday?


With fawning coverage from Fox News and connections with deep-pocketed political donors like Republican mobster and gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson, Tulsi Gabbard is said to be already readying a 2020 presidential or vice-presidential campaign.

Why else would a Member of Congress from Hawaii be spending time in Iowa this summer? She acknowledged her presidential ambitions in an interview last fall.

But maybe she's getting ahead of herself. Zephyr Teachout’s grassroots progressive challenge to Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary ended the New York governor’s dreams of national prominence, perhaps including a 2016 presidential campaign. Will Gabbard face the same fate as Cuomo in Saturday’s Democratic primary for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District? Let's hope so.

Progressives have long been disgusted with Gabbard’s duplicity, opportunism and comfort with right-wing politicians and ideas. Yet Hawaii media outlets haven’t been paying much attention-- until now.

Maui-based activist Shay Chan Hodges’ unabashedly liberal campaign is finally getting noticed by local press. Chan Hodges has almost no money, while Gabbard has a war chest of nearly $ 2 million. But Chan Hodges just registered her first major endorsement, by the well-read alt-weekly Maui Time. The publication offered praise of Chan Hodges and critiques of Gabbard last week:
...[W]e’ve become less than thrilled with the solidness of Gabbard’s support for same-sex marriage (the Hawaii Democratic Party LGBT Caucus has refused to support Gabbard for this reason) and her complete (and, to be honest, insulting) refusal to debate Shay Chan Hodges, her primary challenger–the latter of which is especially galling, since as a staunch Bernie Sanders ally and supporter, she criticized the Democratic National Committee for not scheduling more debates with Hillary Clinton.

As far as Chan Hodges is concerned, she’s an author and longtime Democratic Party activist (she even contributed an essay to MauiTime a few years ago). “As a parent, I manage the realities of satisfying basic human needs every day– which should certainly be a requirement for anyone who represents our citizens at any level of government,” Chan Hodges said in her MauiTime candidate questionnaire.

...[W]e love Chan Hodges, which is why we’re giving her the nod.
Even more impressive, local TV news-- usually the last to report on progressive insurgents-- is also making the case for Chan Hodges against Gabbard. Hawaii News Now (the shared Honolulu affiliate of CBS and NBC) recently provided major airtime to the race:
Challenger Shay Chan Hodges has never held a publicly elected position, but has been active in the Democratic Party for the last 20 years. She says she's entered the race because Gabbard isn't the progressive candidate she claims to be.

...Chan Hodges cites Gabbard's record on gun reform legislation and her repeated appearances on Fox News slamming President Barack Obama as proof she isn't Democratic enough to represent Hawaii.

"She's criticizing from the exact same perspective, using the exact same words that Donald Trump is using," Chan Hodges said. "She's criticizing him about the Syrian refugees. She's criticizing him that he isn't using the term 'radical Islam.'"
Gabbard could only offer a meek response: “Rather than looking at it based purely on a blind partisan perspective, I look at each issue based on its merit.”

Gabbard’s conservative record isn’t surprising, considering it wasn’t that long ago that she was helping to run her Republican father’s campaign for Congress and then winning a seat on the Honolulu City Council with an endorsement from the Hawaii Rifle Association. Yet, as Chan Hodges points out, the record is at odds with her constituents' views in this strongly Democratic and progressive district. HI-02 voters have previously elected Congressional Progressive Caucus members Patsy Mink (the first woman of color elected to Congress) and Mazie Hirono (now the only woman of color in the Senate). They have never come close to electing a Republican. For betraying her district's values, Gabbard has an F grade from ProgressivePunch.

Though she could’ve followed in her dad’s footsteps and more honestly run as a Republican, Gabbard claims party affiliation doesn’t matter. As she told Vogue in a fluff piece during her first term, “People at home don’t care whether you’ve got a D or R in front of your name.” Yet in Hawaii she obviously benefits from her Democratic label.

Ever since that magazine article came out three years, observers have been comparing Gabbard to Sarah Palin:

And, of course, conservatives and crazed Trumpists can’t stop lusting over her Palin-like looks and shameless, gratuitous, made-for-Fox attacks on President Obama.

Meanwhile, Chan Hodges is focusing on issues, running radio and Internet commercials in this far-flung district, which covers all Hawaiian Islands:

Chan Hodges has recently joined U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in criticizing Donald Trump’s latest example of mindless xenophobia-- a threat to ban Filipino immigrants. Gabbard is silent on the issue. But of course, after expressing common cause with Trump when it comes to criticizing Muslims and banning refugees, what can she say.

Learn more about Chan Hodges here.

If she can stay on the air over the next few days, Chan Hodges can make this a competitive race. That would take some of the sheen off of Gabbard’s carefully cultivated image as a rising star on the national scene. “Gabbard 2020” might be relegated to the same status as “Cuomo 2016.”

Election results will be posted here late Saturday night Hawaii time (early Sunday morning on the Mainland).

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At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rumor is she will challenge Hirono in a primary in 2018. And unfortunately getting progressive support merely for backing Sanders, despite her conservative voting record. Strong piece.


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