Posted tagged ‘Democratic Party’

Akaka gets no respect

January 27, 2011

The decision of U.S. Senate Democrats to dump Hawai‘i’s 86-year-old Sen. Daniel Akaka as veterans affairs chairman and move him to the less prestigious Indian Affairs Committee is a political surprise.

Senators seldom make such moves for age alone, unless there is a feeling that the member isn’t up to the job anymore. That’s how senior Hawai‘i Sen. Daniel Inouye rose to appropriations chairman over the late Sen. Robert Byrd.

A hint that Akaka is starting to slip is a heck of a message to send Hawai‘i voters as he gears up for a potentially tough re-election campaign against former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, with Democrats fighting an uphill battle to hold their two-vote Senate majority.

If the Democrats are sending Akaka a message that they want him to step aside and let a younger Democrat take on Lingle, it would be interesting to know whom they have in mind.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case would likely jump at the chance, but they could turn out to be seriously damaged political goods after their big losses in 2010 — Hannemann for governor and Case for Congress.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa would be pushing it with voters to start campaigning for the Senate halfway through her first term in the House, and U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono is a light achiever who could be a tough sell as the heavy lifter Hawai‘i needs to get ready to pick up the load after Inouye passes from the scene. Would former Gov. John Waihee eye a comeback at 66?

If the Democrats want to move past Akaka, their best bet would be to persuade him to step down sometime this year and let Abercrombie appoint a replacement who could run against Lingle as an incumbent.

But Akaka has resisted such pushes for 20 years, and the fight among Democratic factions over who gets the appointment could become ugly.

Update: If you want to learn how to spin like a pro, check out this press release that just came out.


Welcome openness in Big Isle Senate picks

January 11, 2011

Give Big Island Democrats credit for transparency in the process to replace Sen. Russell Kokubun, who represented Hilo, Puna and Ka‘u before resigning to join the Abercrombie administration as agriculture director.

The party released the names of eight candidates who asked to be considered: state Rep. Faye Hanohano, former County Council Chairman Gary Safarik, health food store owner Russell Ruderman, Navy intelligence administrator Anthony Marzi, Abercrombie’s East Hawai‘i  campaign coordinator Gilbert Kahele, Ka’u doctor Richard Creagan, natural foods manager Susan “Marie” Sanford and attorney Beverly Jean “Jeannie” Withington.

Then over the weekend, the candidates were questioned in a speed-dating format by more than 40 representatives from the district’s 16 Democratic precincts, who voted to send the names of Ruderman, Marzi and Kahele to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Under state law, the governor must choose a replacement from the three nominees provided by the party. He has 30 days to act, but is expected to pick sooner with the start of the Legislature looming.

Credit also goes to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for its diligent coverage of the appointment process — not only for Kokubun, but also the earlier appointment of Malama Solomon to replace Sen. Dwight Takamine after he, too, resigned to join the Abercrombie administration. Their latest story is here.

I wish the O‘ahu Democratic Party was as open and the island media as attentive in providing information about the replacement of Sen. Colleen Hanabusa by Rep. Maile Shimabukuro and the current process to replace Shimabukuro.

Update: Abercrombie’s office announced this afternoon that he’s appointing Kahele, 68, to the Senate seat.


I had to chuckle at a note in the Trib story that the Democrats’ weekend selection event was held at the Puna Hongwanji Mission.

I have absolutely no personal objections; it’s so Big Island and part of the island’s political charm. But I couldn’t help but imagine how the party’s increasingly vocal separation-of-church-and-state crowd would scream bloody murder if Republicans held such an event at a Hope Chapel.

It points up again how efforts of some Democrats to obliterate religion from public life blatantly targets Christianity over other faiths — a bias that will ultimately come back to bite the Democrats.

Democrats go mindless on taxes

December 9, 2010

While local Democrats celebrate their near sweep in the recent election, their counterparts in Washington are proving the old Will Rogers line: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Congressional Democrats have made jokes of themselves by bashing their own president for cutting a necessary deal with Republicans to preserve tax cuts for the middle class and secure benefits for the unemployed in exchange for also temporarily extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

They get their butts kicked in the election and they respond by fighting with each other instead of the other side.

We should remember that President Barack Obama had to negotiate a compromise with Republicans only because Democratic lawmakers, who control both houses, couldn’t deliver the votes to support the bill they and Obama wanted to end the tax cuts for the wealthy.

If you don’t have the votes for the deal you want, you negotiate the best deal you can get, and that’s what Obama did. If the Democrats’ prospects improve, they can fight it again when the tax cuts expire in two years — and between now and then, they can do all the railing they want to hold Republicans accountable for pandering to the rich.

What’s the point of a protracted fight the Democrats can’t currently win that only sticks it to middle-class taxpayers and the unemployed? If the Democrats don’t have the votes now, winning the fight only diminishes come January when the GOP takes over the House and picks up seats in the Senate.

Since when is it weakness to pursue responsible compromise when you lack the votes to have it all your own way?

Our own Democratic Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka had it right when they said they’ll will support Obama’s compromise to help working families despite their strong reservations about extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which Inouye said will cause him to  “hold my nose.”

Akaka said, “Working families in Hawai‘i need our help to put food on the table. They will spend the money locally and help our economy. I simply cannot allow these middle-class tax cuts to expire or abandon the unemployed during these tough times.”

Hawai‘i Democrats make a stand

November 2, 2010

As the rest of the country moved sharply to the right, local voters made a strong statement that Hawai‘i remains as liberal and Democratic as ever.

We stood behind Hawai‘i-born President Barack Obama as his policies were repudiated elsewhere, we elected an unabashedly liberal governor by a wide margin over a solid GOP opponent and we were one of the few states to turn a Republican congressional seat Democratic.

After bitter primary fights in most of the top races, Hawai‘i Democrats came together in an impressive show of strength that gave them a clear mandate to lead the state into the future.

While it was a night of tough losses for the Republicans, at least they put up a fight in most races after the debacle of 2008 when they failed to contest 40 percent of the legislative seats.

And they deserve credit for showing the courage of their convictions by running on their Republican values instead of fudging party philosophy, as successful Hawai‘i GOP candidates have often done in the past to compete in a Democratic state.

But now Republicans have to face the reality that after hearing them loud and clear, the great majority of Hawai‘i voters simply don’t share their economic beliefs and are not comfortable mixing religion and politics on social issues.

We’d benefit from a vibrant two-party system, but at this point in our history, Republicanism is not a brand that sells in Hawai‘i and the party is going to need some new ideas to return to relevance here.

Democrats: Rules made for ignoring II

September 13, 2010

Our discussion about Democratic Party rules and their enforcement (or lack thereof) takes an interesting new turn with the party’s move to discipline Gary Okino with expulsion, censure or reprimand for supporting Republican candidates in the upcoming election, including Cam Cavasso over U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Okino, a Honolulu councilman, is running in the Democratic primary against Rep. Blake Oshiro, the author of HB 444, and Democrats have every right to be up in arms that he’s endorsed a long list of Republicans who share his opposition to gay unions.

But the Democrats also have a pesky little problem: Two years ago, Inouye committed essentially the same infraction when he went against the party’s fight to gain a filibuster-proof Senate majority by campaigning for the late Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in Alaska.

There were huge issues of national interest at stake in terms of the Democrats’ ability to enact their programs, but we heard not a peep of reprimand or hint of censure against Inouye.

It’s more than a little hypocritical for the party to now come down with both feet on Okino for doing the same thing to Inouye (and others) that Inouye did in 2008 to Alaska Democrat Mark Begich.

If rules don’t apply equally to everybody, a party can hardly call itself “democratic.”

The Hannemann campaign answers

June 23, 2010

I encouraged the Hannemann campaign to address issues arising from the state Democratic convention and wanted to direct attention to a detailed comment on the previous post, “More Mufi in the woodshed,” from Keith Rollman.

Rollman, a senior city IT advisor, Hannemann campaign volunteer and Democratic convention delegate, argues that the convention was stacked from the start by supporters of Hannemann’s major Democratic rival for governor, Neil Abercrombie. Part of his comment:

There is little tollerance for any “Democrat” not willing to tow the liberal mantra of the Neil Abercrombie zealots who have taken over the party. What used to be the “big tent” is now a rather ingrown clique with some very radical views. I don’t think they represent the more patriotic AJA Democrats I know, the typical union workers or a majority of the more moderate and independent individuals who still consider themselves Democrats. To quote an old adage…we didn’t leave the party, the party left us.

You can read Rollman’s entire comment and enter your own at the above link. I’m closing this post to comments to keep all responses on the matter together over there.

Feel free to debate the substance vigorously, but please avoid personal insults. I’d like everybody who posts here to be treated with personal courtesy, and feel especially strongly about it for those who put their real names behind their comments.

More Mufi in the woodshed

June 22, 2010

I don’t know how many read all the way through yesterday’s comments about Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s performance at the state Democratic Convention, but there was one near the end from Laraine Yasui, co-chair of the convention planning committee, that’s worth a look.

Yasui basically confirms party chairman Dante Carpenter’s assertions about the behavior of the mayor and his gubernatorial campaign (see “Democratic chief takes Mufi to the woodshed”) and offers further details.

It’s extraordinary for party leaders to become incensed enough to publicly criticize so prominent a member. Following is the gist of her comment, which she also sent in an e-mail circulating among Democrats:

I know that no one from the party headquarters gave Dante’s letter to David. Also, I can vouch for the fact that Mufi’s campaign appeared to sabotage the convention events during the entire planning period. In addition to everything listed by Dante in his letter to Mufi, we lost thousands of dollars guaranteed to the hotel for food and beverage when Mufi offered delegates a free Friday reception and a free Saturday luncheon (we always have a Friday reception and a Saturday luncheon, which delegates pay for) causing our normal numbers of 400-500 for each event to drop to 200. I do not understand why he had to plan his reception on Friday night at the same time as committee meetings, when he could have done his party on Saturday night along with all other candidates, who hosted parties in their hotel suites. On Friday night, not only was Mufi’s party at the same time as the committee meetings, but right next to the meeting rooms, causing noise problems for the meetings with the loud music.

On Saturday, both Gubernatorial candidates were given 5 minutes to speak, and Neil spoke for 6 minutes and Mufi spoke for 12 minutes, ignoring Dante’s 3 warnings to stop. (The newspaper reported that Neal spoke for 10 minutes and Mufi spoke for 20 minutes, which was not correct.) 3 of Mufi’s campaign leaders specifically told me that we should suspend our business just so Mufi could speak at 3 pm. But the written agreement with Party Headquarters was that he could speak only after convention business was over, which was not finished at 3 pm.

I’m not active in any political party and wouldn’t try to pass myself off as the Emily Post of party etiquette, but the allegations against the Hannemann campaign would appear to be fairly serious breaches of good manners in any social setting.

It’s like a rich uncle showing up to your backyard family reunion and taking half the relatives you’d hoped would contribute to the potluck off to Ruth’s Chris.

If somebody from the Hannemann campaign would like to weigh in on this, with a name attached so I can verify it’s from from the campaign, I’ll see that it gets prominent display.

Note: With all the differing accounts of who spoke for how long, I sucked it up and reviewed the two speeches myself from the videos at and concluded that Democrats really have cheap watches. My count of the speech lengths from first word to last:

Hannemann: 17 minutes, 30 seconds

Abercrombie: 11 minutes, 10 seconds

The disparaged newspaper estimate wasn’t that far off. Carpenter wasn’t in the picture on these videos and I can’t speak to whether he signaled either candidate.

Democratic chief takes Mufi to the woodshed

June 20, 2010

Mayor Mufi Hannemann got a dressing down from Democratic Party Chairman Dante Carpenter for not minding his manners at the recent state Democratic Convention, where Hannemann stumped as a candidate for governor.

In a 2 1/2-page letter to Hannemann, Carpenter complained that the mayor and his campaign committee decided not to sponsor a breakfast it was expected to host, “created turmoil” by hosting a competing campaign event that drew delegates away from Resolution Committee meetings, breached an agreement on the time for the mayor’s speech to the convention, ignored the time limit on the speech despite repeated warnings and tried to bamboozle hotel audiovisual people into playing an unauthorized campaign disc after the Hannemann speech.

“Working with your campaign representatives at times became cumbersome and created confusion,” Carpenter said. “Misunderstandings between your campaign representatives and the convention committee were numerous.”

Carpenter said that even after the Hannemann campaign was asked to avoid having its Friday night event interfere with the Resolutions Committee, the campaign placed invitations on the chairs of all the committee meeting rooms.

“At minimum, your Friday function represented a ‘distraction’ while at worst it was disrespectful of the very core reasons for the Friday night Democratic Party’s convention meetings — the serious participation of convention delegates engaged in developing Democratic Party principles,” Carpenter said.

He said the Hannemann campaign insisted on a written agreement for the time of Hannemann’s speech, then breached it.

“The written agreement stated that you would speak for five minutes with 1-2 minutes of ‘wiggle room.’ In fact, you spoke for 12 minutes and even when called on subtly three times by me (‘… Mufi, Pau’) to wrap up your remarks, you did not.

“In addition, during your speech your representative approached the Hilton’s AV people and gave them a disc to play at the end of your speech and informed the Hilton people that the convention committee had approved it. Hilton people checked and discovered that no such arrangements had been made or approved to place special for music for you and they did not. This representing yourself to the Hilton AV people was inappropriate; putting our people in the position of having to tell Hilton that no arrangements had been made was embarrassing for all concerned.”

Carpenter expressed disappointment that Hannemann didn’t participate in the nitty-gritty of the convention’s work.

“In your speech you spoke about your mentors, specifically Senator Inouye and Governor Waihe’e; both excellent examples of outstanding, committed Democrats. For your information, both Senator Inouye and Governor Waihe’e participated in many aspects of the 2010 convention, voting on resolutions, SSC members, national committeeman and state convention chair elections.

“It was a privilege for me to be able to look out over the delegation and see these two men sitting at the table with the delegates from their districts and precincts. Had you followed the examples you cited, I am sure that the delegates from your district and precinct would have enjoyed having you sit with them and share your views on the platform, resolutions and changes to the party’s constitution, as well.”

As party chairman, Carpenter says he’s neutral in the primary contest for governor between Hannemann and former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie. When Carpenter served in the state Senate in the early 1980s, he and Abercrombie were both members of a faction led by Ben Cayetano.

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