Posted tagged ‘Colleen Hanabusa’

An issue of congressional residency

August 15, 2011

I got a note from a supporter of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa asking why her fellow Rep. Mazie Hirono hasn’t gotten as much scrutiny as Hanabusa over whether she moved into the district she represents.

The main reason is that, unlike Hanabusa, Hirono never promised she’d move if elected.

Last year’s election put Hawai‘i in a bizarre situation in which neither of our congresswomen could vote for themselves. Federal law requires only that representatives live in the state, not the district.

Hirono lived in East Honolulu in the 1st Congressional District when she was elected in 2006 to represent rural Oahu and the neighbor islands in the 2nd Congressional District. She never moved into the district she represents and is now running for the U.S. Senate.

Hanabusa lived in Ko Olina in the 2nd Congressional District when she was elected last year to represent urban Honolulu in the 1st Congressional District. Under heavy pressure on the residency issue from her opponent, Charles Djou, she pledged to move into the district if elected and kept the promise by renting a Kakaako apartment.

Hanabusa still hasn’t sold her Ko Olina home and it could be moved into the 1st District for the next election if the state Reapportionment Commission has its way, but a Hanabusa spokesman said she plans to sell the Ko Olina property and buy closer to town either way.

The residency issue came up in the 2006 Democratic primary in the 2nd District, but Hirono’s opponents, who included Hanabusa, never put enough pressure on her to elicit a clear promise to move. Here’s how I reported her position in a column before that year’s primary:

Hirono, the former lieutenant governor who lives in Honolulu, says she would like to move to the 2nd District, but stopped short of saying she actually will do so if her campaign succeeds.

At candidate forums, Hirono has expressed concerns about uprooting her 82-year-old mother, who lives with her, from her familiar surroundings.

“I’d love to live in the 2nd District, especially on one of the Neighbor Islands,” Hirono said. “My biggest challenge will be making a decision about where to live, because I enjoy each island for many different reasons.

“Of course, the reality is that if elected I would be living the bulk of the time in Washington, D.C., as that is where the job is.”

Hirono argued that “what matters more than where the member of Congress lives is that the representative is attentive to the people of the district, responsive to their needs.”

She was keeping to the same line in a recent statement to AP: ”As many know, my 86-year-old mother lives with my husband and me. Uprooting her from familiar surroundings to a new home would be too disruptive for our family.”

Hirono can be fairly criticized for choosing not to live among the constituents she represents, but it wouldn’t be fair to accuse her of breaking a campaign promise.


A U.S. Senate race for the ages

July 26, 2011

Somebody asked why I didn’t mention Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz yesterday when I ran down the list of possible candidates for Daniel Akaka’s U.S. Senate seat.

Schatz has been included in the early speculation and he hasn’t said no, but a candidacy looks highly unlikely with initial polls showing that it would be an uphill battle for him.

The lieutenant governor wouldn’t have to resign to run for a federal office, but a weak showing in the Democratic primary would severely damage his personal political capital and could also be read as a repudiation of the Abercrombie administration.

Schatz has set himself up nicely to try to climb the political ladder to governor, and he’s not a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of guy who would risk it to enter a crowded Senate race as an underdog.

In one regard — age — Schatz would make sense as Hawai‘i’s next senator.

It takes time to build seniority in the Senate and Schatz, who turns 40 next year, would be about the same age as Daniel Inouye was when he was first elected to the Senate and started amassing the seniority that has served Hawai‘i so well.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, considered by some to be the Democratic frontrunner, would be 65 when inaugurated — about the same age as Akaka was when he was first appointed to the Senate. Some 20 years later with his age a concern at 86, Akaka still only has enough seniority to chair a relatively minor committee.

Of the other potential Democratic candidates, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa would be 61 next year, former Rep. Ed Case 60 and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann 58. The likely Republican candidate, former Gov. Linda Lingle would be 59.

Schatz could serve two terms as lieutenant governor and two terms as governor and still run for the Senate at a younger age than any of the others are now, which says tons about the graying of Hawai‘i’s political leadership.

Hanabusa looking like a House candidate

July 25, 2011

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s new fundraising missive seems a pretty clear sign that she’ll defend her House seat next year rather than jump into the cowded race for Daniel Akaka’s U.S. Senate seat.

An e-mail soliciting funds for her 2012 campaign didn’t exactly specify what office Hanabusa is seeking and she’s said she won’t make a formal decision until August, but the tone was clearly House-oriented.

She accused Speaker John Boehner and the Republican House majority of endangering Social Security, cutting health care, subsidizing big oil and threatening to shut down the government.

“Just imagine what Republicans will try if they control Congress in 2012,” she said. “I need your help to prevent that from happening.”

Hanabusa’s fellow U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Rep. Ed Case have entered the Senate Democratic primary and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is also looking at the primary in which the winner will likely face former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

Hanabusa let Hirono beat her to the punch, and the conventional wisdom is that two liberal women would split votes and throw the advantage to the moderate Case. If Hannemann turns the race four-way, it could become a crap shoot.

Hanabusa’s safe course would be to keep the House seat that took three tries to win and wait to run for the Senate when 86-year-old Sen. Daniel Inouye retires.

But it’s the winner of the Akaka seat who will ultimately succeed Inouye as the state’s senior senator, and the deciding issue could come down to which candidate voters see as best qualified to to pick up the heavy lifting Inouye has long provided in bringing home the bacon for Hawai‘i.

It would be ironic if Hanabusa ends up the odd candidate out, as she has the most proven record of the group as a legislative heavy-lifter.

In her 12 years in the state Senate, she held every major leadership position and was the first woman to serve as Senate president. She knows how to work the levers of legislative power.

Case influenced major legislation in the state House and rose to majority leader, but the leadership role didn’t suit him and he stepped down after only two years to operate as a dissident.

Hirono was never considered a major player during her years in the Legislature, and none of the three has served in Congress long enough to leave a significant mark.

For Hannemann and Lingle, the only legislative experience was at the county council level, where both were viewed as more interested in priming their runs for mayor than doing legislative grunt work.

Hanabusa can now vote for herself

June 13, 2011

To finish off a story we’ve been following, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced she’ll move into the 1st Congressional District she represents by renting a Kakaako apartment until she can sell her Ko Olina home and buy in town.

The new residence that she’ll use the one week a month she’s in Hawai‘i enables her to become a registered voter of the 1st District, and as far as I’m concerned, that satisfies her campaign promise to move into the district if she was elected over Charles Djou.

Hanabusa could have waited to see if Ko Olina ends up in the 1st District after reapportionment as some have speculated, but it would have been read as a broken promise that she didn’t need hanging over her head — especially if she jumps into the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Making the move gives her bragging rights over fellow U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, a possible rival in the Senate race and a resident of the 1st District who never bothered to move into the 2nd District she represents.

If the Ko Olina home doesn’t sell — it’s listed at $1.25 million — Hanabusa can always move back if her circumstances change next year, but likely she needs to downsize her Hawai‘i housing to raise proceeds to help pay for an additional residence in Washington.

Guv signs pay bill; Hanabusa continues house hunt

May 31, 2011

Catching up on a couple of things …

With no fanfare, comment or drama Gov. Neil Abercrombie wisely signed HB 575 to continue 5 percent pay cuts for legislators, administrators and judges for two more years, matching the cuts being asked of unionized public workers.

The measure also continues a freeze on all step increases top state officials would have received since Jan. 1, 2009; if the governor had vetoed the bill, on July 1 legislators would have received 12 percent raises, administrators 17 percent and judges 28.5 percent.

What seemed a simple matter at the beginning of the legislative session became bogged down in maneuvering between the House and Senate and failed to pass out of conference committee.

In the session’s final days, the House accepted a Senate version that many members thought was legally flawed to avoid the public wrath that would surely come if elected officials got pay raises while demanding sacrifices of everybody else.

Abercrombie’s signature suggests the attorney general thinks the measure is legally defensible, and hopefully, we’ve heard the last of this for a couple of years …

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa continues to plug away at keeping her campaign promise to move into the 1st Congressional District she represents.

According to her spokeswoman Ashley Nagaoka, Hanabusa has been holding open houses to sell her Ko Olina home, with the intent of using the proceeds to buy in CD1.

“Until that happens she will have to rent an apartment,” Nagaoka said. “She has narrowed her apartment search down to one building in Honolulu, but I can’t give you the name of the building for security purposes.”

Sucking wind

April 22, 2011

I’ve been dragging for the past week from the triple curse of a bad cold, hot humidity and vog, which combine to leave me gasping and glued to my recliner by lethargy and perspiration.

All that gets me through the days is the hope that the weather will change and bring some relief.

Every night since last Friday, the weather guys on the TV newscasts have been promising a return of the tradewinds. But every morning upon waking, I look out the window expecting to see some rustle in the leaves of my stately ti plants — and NO MORE NOTHING!

I fully sympathize with Guy Hagi when he laments about the demands of viewers who expect him to tell him the exact hour it will rain at their house.

I certainly don’t demand that, but when they say the tradewinds are returning to the islands, I do assume that my house falls within the general classification of “the islands.”

The raised expectations are their own fault with all the hype over flashy meteorological graphics that need three weather segments in each half-hour newscast to be properly shown off.

But all those fancy graphics really tell us with any accuracy is what happened today, which we already know if we bothered to look out the window.

The art of predicting what will happen next hasn’t improved all that much and is often little more than a coin flip. We’re a tiny island chain in the middle of the ocean and a shift of just a few degrees can cause a weather system to hit us more full on than expected — or miss us altogether, like the elusive trades.

It’s still hot and humid as I write this late at night, but the few ti leaves I can see in the darkness are showing a hint of rustle.

Maybe tomorrow …


There was question in the comments earlier this week about the status of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s campaign promise to move into the First Congressional District she represents. KITV had an update last night.

The unDjouing of Charles

November 3, 2010

A question from the election night mailbag:

Charles Djou vs. Colleen Hanabusa was a winnable race for the Republicans. How did they blow it so badly?

Three reasons that stood out to me:

• The Democrats did a much better job with their get-out-the-vote effort. The Democratic appeal led by Barack Obama himself seemed to resonate while the Republicans’ reliance on too many poorly targeted robo-calls seemed to annoy.

This was reflected in victory margins by Hanabusa and Neil Abercrombie that far exceeded the projections of even the most optimistic Democratic polls.

• Djou made a serious mistake by mostly campaigning straight out of the anti-Obama national Republican playbook that just doesn’t put points on the board in Hawai‘i, where two-thirds of voters still think the local-born president is doing a good job.

Djou would have scored better by focusing his campaign more effectively on the local issues where Hanabusa was vulnerable with voters, such as Bishop Estate, the legislative pay raises and her ties to Ko Olina developer Jeff Stone.

• While both campaigns were viewed as overly negative, the Republicans were seen as dirtier in the end.

The TV spot with the unauthorized, doctored photo making Hanabusa look like Darth Vader backfired on the Djou campaign. The cheesy “Big Spender” ad by the Karl Rove group cost Djou votes every time it ran. When the Republicans finally hit Hanabusa on Ko Olina, they turned off voters by dragging her spouse into it and throwing around the word “corruption” without laying a proper foundation.

Hanabusa, on the other hand, did a good job of mixing in some soothing ads with positive messages about values.

Rove, Rove, Rove your boat

October 19, 2010

Hawai‘i is getting its first taste of mainland style political campaigning with the spate of national ads pouring into the 1st Congressional District race between Charles Djou and Colleen Hanabusa, and it’s not easy on the stomach.

The third-party TV spots are done independently of the campaigns and display little understanding of local sensibilities; you have to wonder if they do the campaigns more harm than good.

There have been bad and misleading ads on both sides, but a spot that stands out to me as one of the worst of the breed is the latest attack ad on Hanabusa by American Crossroads, a group led by Karl Rove that is dumping more than $100,000 into the race in the final weeks.

It’s an amateurish, generic cartoon presentation barely tailored for Hawai‘i, showing a poorly drawn and stereotypical figure of an Asian female sitting on a yacht called the “Big Spender” and tossing around greenbacks.

There’s no mention of local issues as it attacks Hanabusa with GOP buzzwords about “Nancy Pelosiʻs tsunami of spending,” the “trillion-dollar health care program” and “cap and trade.”

These preach to the converted and do nothing to speak to voters who still may be undecided. I wouldn’t be surprised of the cheesy come-on costs Djou a couple of points in the polls.

Rove, who was the chief political adviser to President George W. Bush, is supposed to be one of the smartest GOP strategists in the fight to regain control of Congress. If this bush-league production is an example of his work, I don’t get it.

Talking stink with Charles and Colleen

October 13, 2010

The race in the 1st Congressional District is sinking fast with Democrat Colleen Hanabusa and Republican Charles Djou exchanging accusations that the other side is “smearing” them with negative ads.

Hanabusa called a news conference yesterday to condemn a Djou ad predicting a storm of GOP negative advertising against him in the final weeks of the campaign, which she called “one of the worst negative ads that I have ever seen.”

I’m sorry, but not even close.

Equally disingenuous was the Djou camp’s response through the state Republican Party to the effect of “she started it first.”

If this contest is to be decided by which side has the most pilau ads, it’ll be a tie. Between the two campaigns, the state parties and the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees, my e-mail inbox is filled with new loads of fresh garbage every day.

The “storm” spot that Hanabusa found offensive was actually quite similar in its formula to an earlier Democratic ad attacking Djou as a Republican lackey because he voted with his party most of the time.

The tried-and-true formula of negative political advertising, which both sides employed, is to get the most unflattering photo of the opponent you can find, edit it to look as dark and sinister as possible, and then massage a few sketchy elements of the opponent’s record to appear similarly sinister.

This race, which has been going on and on and on since Neil Abercrombie announced he was stepping down in the winter, long ago ceased producing any new or useful information for voters.

Blessed are the early absentee voters, who will soon be to hold their noses, mail in their choices and put the unpleasantness in the rear-view mirror.


My column in today’s Star-Advertiser: “Few votes in primary show appointed BOE is necessary.”

Djou a true test for GOP

August 9, 2010

Republicans have had little success in Hawai’i’s big political races in the last 50 years and the few who have succeeded, such as Pat Saiki and Linda Lingle, did it by downplaying party affiliation and stressing moderation.

U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is trying a different way by wearing his conservatism on his sleeve in his run for re-election to a full term against Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa.

It’ll be an interesting test of whether the mainland-style Republican brand can sell in Hawai’i even under the most favorable conditions.

Djou won the special election to fill the last few months of Neil Abercrombie’s term against a Democratic vote that was split between Hanabusa and Ed Case.

Still, the 40 percent of the vote he pulled was impressive and if he holds that in the general election, he doesn’t need that many disgruntled Case voters to get over the top.

The customary political move in this heavily Democratic state would be to moderate himself to win over Case’s constituency of moderate Democrats and independents.

But he’s done the opposite, seeking out opportunities to be visible in promoting the Tea Party line on economic stimulus, financial reform, tax breaks for the wealthy and extension of unemployment benefits — giving Democrats a clear record to shoot at.

Whether you agree with him or not, you’ve got to give Djou some credit for having the courage of his convictions.

Lingle broke new ground by winning as a Republican. If Djou pulls it off, his new ground would be winning as a Republican who unabashedly acts like one.

%d bloggers like this: