Friday, June 15, 2012

Elections 2012 Special Report: U.S. Senate race pits Case, Hirono; Lingle in the wings

Sure, Hawaii's the birthplace of President Obama. But with its measly four electoral votes, late poll closing and scant representation in Congress, the Aloha State isn't often relevant on the national political stage.

But there's one race where Hawaii matters this year, and that's the scramble for partisan control of the U.S. Senate. It's the first time in two decades Hawaii has had an open Senate seat, with the retirement of Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Political prognosticators are predicting a razor-thin margin as the Republicans and Democrats battle it out in primary contests leading to the Nov. 6 general election.

As political wag Larry Sabato sees it, "The Senate calculus is now this: If all members not up for reelection return to the Senate next January, and all the seats where we favor one party go that way in November, the Senate is 47-46 Democratic, with seven toss-ups."

Sabato's Crystal Ball as of June 6 pegs Hawaii as "leans Democratic," a far cry from the usual "safe Democratic" or "likely Democratic" this historically blue state generally earns.

This far out from election day, polling has been inconclusive regarding both the Democratic primary race between former U.S. Rep Ed Case and U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono (both representing Hawaii's more rural District 2), and in which of the pair has the best chance of beating former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, the GOP frontrunner.

A Jan. 31 Civil Beat automated telephone survey of 1,358 likely voters found Case had a 13 percentage point margin over Lingle, 46 percent to 33 percent. Hirono had a 7 percentage point margin, 46 percent to 39 percent. In each case, roughly 20 percent of likely voters said they were either undecided or would pick another candidate. A June 12 Civil Beat poll found both candidates with 46 percent in the primary.

A  Feb. 13 poll by Ward Research for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser showed Hirono beating Case by a 20-point margin in the primary, 56-36, and besting Lingle by 20 points as well, 57-27, prompting national observers to call Hirono’s campaign "dominant" and "in control" of the race.

Hirono, who's been endorsed by Hawaii's political king-maker and senior Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has been waging her campaign as the quasi-incumbent, ducking televised debates and mostly dodging barbs thrown her way by an increasingly aggressive Case.

Hirono must be feeling the heat, however, and in the most recent sally in a June 8 Facebook posting, played both the gender card and the race card, saying "The senate could stand more diversity I bring that diversity, I'm a woman, I'm Asian, I'm an immigrant, I'm a Buddhist. Someone asked me 'But are you gay?' Nobody's perfect!"

About the candidates:

Hawaii U.S. Senate campaign
Ed Case, wife Audrey Nakamura
Ed Case
Party: Democrat
Island: Oahu
Campaign phone: 808. 888.9997
Website: http://www.edcase.com/
Political Experience: U.S. Rep. Hawaii's 2nd District, 2003-2006; state Rep., 1994-2002; legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. and later U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, 1975-1978,
Other experience: Land-use, commercial attorney at Carlsmith Ball, 1983-2003, law clerk to Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice William Richardson, 1981-1982
Education: University of California/Hastings College of Law, law degree, 1981. Williams College, Mass., psychology degree, 1975.
Personal: Born Sept. 27, 1952 in Hilo, Hawaii. Married to Audrey Nakamura, blended family of four children.

Hawaii U.S. Senate candidate
Mazie Hirono
Mazie Hirono
Party: Democrat
Island: Oahu
Campaign phone: 808. 536-3292
Website: http://www.mazieforhawaii.com/
Political Experience: U.S. Rep. Hawaii's 2nd District, first immigrant woman of Asian ancestry to be sworn into Congressional office, 2007-2012; elected Hawaii Lt. Gov., 1995-2002; state House, 1981-1995
Other experience: Deputy attorney general,1979, some private law practice
Education: Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. law degree, 1978; University of Hawaii at Manoa, Phi Beta Kappa, psychology degree, 1970
Personal: Born in Fukushima, Japan, Nov. 3,1947, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959, married to Leighton Kim Oshima, blended family of three children.

copyright 2012 All Hawaii News
Linda Lingle (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Linda Lingle
Party: Republican
Island: Oahu
Campaign phone: 808.777.8845
Website: http://www.lingle2012.com/
Political experience: Hawaii governor 2002-2010. First woman, first person of Jewish ancestry and first Republican in 40 years elected governor. Mayor of Maui 1991-1999, Maui County Council 1981-1991.
Other experience: Founded and edited the Moloka‘i Free Press community newspaper, 1976.
Education: California State University, Northridge, journalism degree cum laude, 1975
Personal: Born June 4, 1953, native of St. Louis, Missouri. Relocated to Hawaii in 1975. Single, no children.

Other candidates