It’s already hold-your-nose time in the Hawai‘i’s U.S. Senate race

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a couple of bizarre statements this week in Hawai‘i’s much anticipated 2012 U.S. Senate race, which so far has U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Rep. Ed Case competing on the Democratic side for a likely match against former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

In one missive, DSCC executive director Guy Cecil scolded Case for publicizing his campaign poll that purported to show him leading Lingle while Hirono trails the Republican.

“I don’t believe Mr. Case is being honest with this poll,” Cecil said. “It exaggerates support for him and for Lingle. It also contradicts polling we have done in this race that shows Hirono leading Lingle by 19 points.”

Who knows if Case’s poll was right or not, but it was done by an established pollster in Hawai‘i and the sample was taken months apart from the DSCC survey.

In any event, using polling data to underline your message is a standard campaign tactic, and since when does the national party get involved in an intramural squabble this early in the game?

It makes you wonder how the statement came to be issued. Did Hirono go crying to the DSCC for protection? Was it U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a longtime Case antagonist, keeping his promise to remain neutral by having a surrogate do the dirty work?

Establishment Democrats don’t seem to get it that they shoot themselves in the foot with this kind of carping.

The more Hirono seems to need the protection of “the boys,” the weaker she appears. The more the party establishment acts afraid of Case, the more moderates in the party and independent voters like him.

Equally nonsensical was a separate statement by the DSCC’s Matt Canter attacking Lingle after she dipped her toe further into the race.

“Hyper-partisan Linda Lingle is trying to hide her long record as a partisan bomb thrower in order to go to Washington and rubber stamp the extreme Republican agenda that would end Medicare and give tax breaks to oil companies,” Canter said.

Over-the-top rhetoric may sound good in Washington’s overcharged political environment, but it just doesn’t play in Hawai‘i. This was proven beyond any doubt in last year’s race in the 1st Congressional District, when similar ultra-nasty and factually dubious attacks by national Republicans against Colleen Hanabusa helped her more than hurt her.

Lingle has an eight-year record as governor that’s fair game for criticism, but trying to portray her as a bomb-throwing GOP extremist won’t resonate with most Hawai‘i voters who know better.

She has a long-established record as a moderate within her party and has been derided as a RINO — Republican in name only — by conservative advocates of the extreme-right agenda locally and nationally.

Hardly a bomb-thrower, many of her failures as governor could be traced to an excess of caution.

The more the national parties involve themselves in our 2012 Senate race, the more Hawai‘i voters will hold their noses — and last year’s CD1 race showed that’s not a good thing for the side emitting the most odor.

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15 Comments on “It’s already hold-your-nose time in the Hawai‘i’s U.S. Senate race”

  1. Doug Says:

    News flash: The DSCC backs incumbents, period. With no incumbent in that Senate race, they’ll back the House incumbent trying to move up (i.e. the next closest thing to an incumbent). For DSCC to do otherwise would bring down the wrath of all the incumbents that dutifully hand over large contributions to the DSCC.

    Now, if Hanabusa declares for the same race, then I would predict the DSCC to fade into the background (perhaps while maintaining the anti-Case tactics) and to not endorse either Hirono or Hanabusa, but who can tell?

  2. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Mazie should run based on her record.

    Hahahahaha. What record?

  3. el guapo Says:

    Lingle’s caution didn’t lead her to make very poor decisions on her inner circle and cabinet appointments, the same problem which is going to doom Abercrombie to failure. Her other problem was the inability to get in front of the big issues, which could be attributed to caution but was a fatal trait for a governor to have.
    Congress is never in a rush to accomplish anything so she may fit in there. If somehow it’s Lingle vs. Hirono part dos it would be a horrible time and choice for this state.

  4. zzzzzz Says:

    el guapo–How often have you really had good choices for any office lately? It’s been years since I’ve had more than one candidate I could fully support for any office, and in many cases, there were no good candidates.

  5. Kolea Says:

    Matt Canter’s comments were dumb. I assume he’s a junior staffer who is going through the motions and reciting boilerplate talking points with no familiarity with either Lingle or Hawaii’s political dynamics. He should remain silent for the rest of the race.

    I recommend to Hawaii’s voters (and journalists) Lingle’s own exaggerated claim of her accomplishments as a visionary governor. You can read about it here:

    – – – – – – – –

    As for the kerfuffle over the DSCC’s attack on Case and his poll, I have more mixed feelings. Dave’s characterization of this is so predictable. Seriously, had any of us been asked to guess Dave’s likely response, we could have grabbed a pencil, a piece of paper and in 3 minutes scribbled out a pretty close guesstimate of what has now appeared in today’s post.

    Why does Dave imagine Hirono “crying to the DSCC for protection”? Wow, Dave, you make no attempt to conceal your open hostility to Hirono, do you? is I have no intimate knowledge of what happened, but let me suggest a more neutral narrative:

    NOTE: The following is SPECULATIVE!

    When either the DSCC or Mazie’s people got word of Ed’s polling numbers, they consulted Mark Mellman, the pollster who had run the earlier poll which had shown both Mazie and Ed defeating Lingle. “Why are Ed’s numbers so different from your poll and the Star-Advertiser poll?” Mellman looked things over and said, “I think Case is being dishonest. I do not believe his numbers.”

    So perhaps the DSCC spokesman truly believed Case was being dishonest and felt compelled to say so.

    Or is my narrative impossible?

    Dave omitted from his telling that last time, the “Washington Insiders” were interfering on behalf of Ed Case. But that conflicts with his ongoing campaign to portray Case as an independent, “mavericky” kind of Democrat.

    I cannot account for the difference between the 3 polls. The fact that Ed refuses to release the complete results of his poll should reinforce the default attitude we have towards any politician’s private polling: they should be “taken with a grain of salt.”

    Like most other local political observers, I developed a lot of respect for the Merriman River Group, Ed’s pollsters, as a result of the deadly accuracy of their polls in 2010. While their poll is more recent than the two other polls, neither Ed nor Mazie nor, for that matter, Lingle have done anything significant which can explain such a radical shift in the numbers. OTOH, the change may be the result of increased public frustration with Governor Abercrombie and the prolonged stalemate in Washington, which MAY have soured opinion on “partisans” of either party. Ed, being seen as a centrist, may be the beneficiary of that opinion shift. Mazie is seen as “more Democratic” than Ed.

    The challenge for Lingle, of course, is to undo the damage she did to her image as a “moderate” when she appeared to lurch to the right with her fervent embrace of Sarah Palin, her distasteful rudeness to Obama and her support for Aiona with his hyper-“Christian” campaign.

    I think Dave is wrong to say Lingle was denounced as a RINO. That is overly simplistic. That happened early in her career. Those accusations tapered off in her last couple of years as she actively courted the Right.. Will criticisms from the right resume as she re-packages herself as a moderate for her Senate run this time? I doubt it.

  6. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Ed Case officially opens his campaign headquarters on Sunday, August 14, at 11 am. it’s located on the second floor of Ward Warehouse – about 75 feet away from the State Democratic Park/Abercrombie headquarters.

    My relationship with Ed is complex & complicated. He supported both at the Legislature and in Congress many core issues I care about – save one. That difference caused a humungous rift between the two of us.

    The issue? The war in Iraq.

    However, in the past five years or so, we’ve managed to try to find common grounds again.

    Of course, my Prog-Lib colleagues think i’ve sold out, but Ed supports many issues that I care about plus he’s also willing to step up & speak out.

    When he served in Congress, he & his wife actually moved into the Second Congressional District by March, 2003 – that made a huge difference to me.

    If Mazie wins the nomination, I will again wind up voting NOTA in the General Election – not because she beat Ed but because I don’t think she’s qualified to be a US Senator.

    FYI: I don’t vote for Republicans because we do not share common values & concerns.


  7. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Whoops!! State Democratic ParTY/Abercrombie headquarters

  8. robert Says:

    @kolea. the same can be said for any posts you write. you have incredibly predictable liberal tendencies. dave’s more moderate. if you don’t like it, don’t read it! LOL

  9. Kolea Says:


    I doubt you would have been able to “grab a pencil” and jot down what I shared here today with anything approaching the detail I have provided. I may have “predictable liberal tendencies” (shudder). But I also know some stuff.

    Dave’s characterization of Mazie “crying to the DSCC” and “seeking the protection of the boys” was totally unnecessary and reveals more about Dave than it does of Mazie.

    My “liberal tendencies” cause me to oppose Ed Case on several issues. But if you can point out where my opposition to Ed has biased my interpretation of what might have occurred, have at it.

    Please be careful enough to note that I did not characterize either Ed or Merriman’s polling as “dishonest.” I did not have to badmouth Ed in laying out my interpretation of the events. Whereas Dave went out of his way to badmouth Mazie.

  10. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Kolea said: “I doubt you would have been able to “grab a pencil” and jot down what I shared…”

    Only if you had a really, really, really big pencil. When Kolea gets going I always wonder if I’ll live long enough to reach the end of the post.

    I kid. But accurately.

  11. Hugh Clark Says:

    Bad mouth or not, I’ll weigh in on he least transparent elected governor in Hawaii history.

    First, she was never a RINO and proved that in spades when she flitted around the country during the the 2008 presidential campaign with sweet Sarah –the revisionist historian — and joined W Boy and Sen. McCain in trying to paint Obama as not being from Hawaii.

    (He’s a helluva lot more about Hawaii in culture, education and values than she ever was.)

    Set aside that left and right stuff and just look at her unrivaled bad performance, managing money, keeping promises and conducting herself and her staff.

    I may never get old enough to forget she was helping to run a cat house out of the state capitol. Though she had to fire her chief of staff eventually, she abetted him in a subsequent cover up. She never addressed the central issues.

    Only the Associate Press ever pursued the truth as the shrinking Honolulu media laid back with perplexing disinterest. A true bad mark on history of Hawaii journalists.

    Then there was the incomprehensible Dom Perignon champagne tour in China while our kids were put on a four-day-a-week schedule she had induced. I checked out that French brand today and it is priced at $209 a bottle at Mr.K’s, presumably cheaper when acquired tin bulk.

    Though the mealy-mouthed Democrats at the state legislature brought that to light while criticizing her widely discredited head of economic development, nothing came of it.

    And this is the woman who desires to run our country like a business. At least, she could have plied the Chinese with some California champagne or Kentucky whisky and promoted USA products in the process.

    Her Demo predecessors were not exactly paragons of virtue while at home or abroad, but their sins were largely committed by family members (violating customs laws and recording DUI convictions).

    I say Hawaii has suffered quite enough from Lingleism.

  12. cloudia Says:

    This blog is even more must-read now that your column is behind a pay-wall.

    Your work (and Cataluna’s) ARE premium content, BUT Letters to the Editor?! I’m boycotting!

  13. el guapo Says:

    zzzzzz, that’s so true. But this is for U.S. Senate, we need to have good candidates.

  14. Guido Sarducci Says:

    This is all a game to get Hanabusa into the race. Inouye doesn’t like Case or Hirono.

  15. yobo Says:

    Isn’t it true Lee Cataluna hasn’t even lived in Hawaii for a year? Why hasn’t she mentioned this rather relevant fact, especially since her column tries to always push her solidarity and identification with localness? Don’t even try to pose this info in the newspaper’s cimments section.

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