2010 Civil Rights Economy Elections Environment HI Politics

The Race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I should say right up front¬† that I do not and will not support Ed Case in his bid for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional seat in 2010. I didn’t support him when he ran against Senator Akaka in 2006 and I in fact worked on Akaka’s campaign. I feel I should say, however, that politically, he’s not totally bad. As a self-proclaimed progressive, I will say that he’s generally good on social justice issues, such as same-sex marriage, as well as on environmental issues.

Seeing as he’s started campaigning so early and seeing as how I’ve already received a flier from his campaign in my mailbox, I thought I’d start laying out the reasons for voting for someone else. Let’s start with the aforementioned flier.

It begins directly enough:

Aloha! I proudly represented you and our Hawaii in our United States Congress from 2002  to 2007, and humbly ask for your support to continue my service in Washington D.C.

Without going any further, I’m immediately struck by what seems to me to be a pretty direct glaring implication. By using the phrase, ‘continue my service,’ he makes it sound, at least to me, that he’s running for reelection. People who haven’t heard of Ed Case before, or who aren’t very familiar with his resume, might be prone to some confusion, especially if they only skim the contents of the flier.

Additionally, I’m struck by what seems to me to be a pretty direct question. If you served so proudly, Ed, why did you feel the need to give up your seat to oppose a popular Senator with years of seniority in the the Senate?

See, Ed is building an argument against just about anyone who he may end up running against in either the Democratic Primary, or General Election; he already has some seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives and so wouldn’t be starting at the very bottom, like others would. He used this same argument about seniority when he ran against Senator Akaka; we should vote out the Senator now, so Case could fill the spot and start accruing seniority in the U.S. Senate now, rather than waiting for the good Senator to die. (I added the ‘die’ part, though I think its hard to deny the sentiment was implined by Case during his 2006 bid).

I find this approach as hypocritical now as I did then. If Ed is so concerned about building seniority in Congress, to Hawaii’s benefit, why did he vacate his seat two years ago? To me the answer is simple and direct: he isn’t the slightest bit interested in building seniority in the U.S. House. He’s not running for the Senate seat next year because he’s smart enough to know it’s not a good idea to get into a race against Senator Inouye. I have little doubt, though, that when the opportunity arises, Case will jump ship from any position in the U.S. House to take a shot at the U.S. Senate. Hell, he’s done it once already.

And despite this reality of his history, its possible to read into this flier a jab at Congressman Abercrombie, who is vacating his seat in the U.S. House to run for Hawaii’s top executive.

These are tough times for us all, especially our national economy and pocketbooks. We face crucial challenges like balancing out budget, improving health care, preserving our environment and living in an uncertain world, to name a few. Our Hawaii also faces transition in our congressional representation, especially with the lost of Rep. Abercrombie’s two decades of seniority.

There he goes again with seniority. Given my previously stated bias against Case, I have to admit the possibility that I’m reading too much into that last sentence. Maybe its not a jab at all, but for a man who gave up what would be, by next year, two additional years of seniority to his already accrued four, he didn’t seem terribly interested in the idea of seniority when he saw a chance to step over Senator Akaka and take his seat in the Senate. For a man who’s been ‘blessed with a lifetime in Hawaii,’ I’m pretty sure Ed really should have known better.

The race was made more interesting yesterday with the Senate President, Colleen Hanabusa, announcing her own bid for Hawaii’s First Congressional seat. A frequent voice on the local blog scene, Kolea makes an interesting analysis of the match-up (you’ll need to scroll down the page a bit). I tend to agree with him, both in his analysis and desire for a good progressive third candidate.

Without comparing side-by-side their stance on any number of issues, its hard for me to claim one to be more progressive than the other, though at a time when every Democratic vote in the House counts, I do believe Colleen will be more likely to vote ‘the Party Line’ than Ed, who flaunted his independence from the Party in his 2006 Senate bid. He continues to make the same appeal to Republicans and independents, though maybe not explicitly.

From his email response to Colleen’s announcement:

Above all, I offer my continued loyalty first and foremost to all those I represent, regardless of party, belief, origin or power.

Certainly to the average voter this is a welcome sentiment, however, for those of us that look to the Democratic majority in the U.S. House as a means to enact real and progressive change, its frightening. When it comes to issues relating to the economy, corporate interests, and foreign policy, Ed is considered by many to be a ‘blue dog’ Democrat and would be less inclined to vote with the majority in these areas.

Expect more from me in the future on the race for Hawaii’s First Congressional seat. For now, I’ll leave you with a suggestion; if you’re considering supporting Ed Case, you might want to ask him if he’d be willing to make a campaign promise not to run for the Senate for, say, at least ten years. If he’s not willing to make that, or some similar commitment, I’d think long and hard about what his real motives might be before deciding to support the man.

As for Colleen, I haven’t yet formed an opinion one way or another….

One reply on “The Race for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional”

I lost interest in Ed Case when he voted for the bankruptcy legislation as a Congressman. I was particularly perturbed that he went “across the aisle” during those crazy days of the Bush Administration…..and that he did not voice any dissent on the loss of habeas corpus, like so many he chose a path that he thought would guarantee a federal political career. I don’t think that he should expect to return…..but maybe if he told us how he was mistaken? That he realizes that these were the wrong turns etc?

I liked seeing him in Farenheit 9/11

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