National group may stop state ads Congress candidate Hanabusa a power player in Hawaii politics
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee indicated yesterday that the group's advertising in Hawai'i may stop because former Congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa are splitting the Democratic vote in the special election for Congress.
The DCCC has spent about $250,000 on campaign ads against Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, a Republican who is leading in public and private polls in the winner-take-all election.
"The local Democrats haven't been able to come together and resolve this issue," U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the chairman of the DCCC, said in a statement. "We'll have to re-evaluate based on the situation."
Van Hollen's remarks come one day after Hanabusa announced she would stay in the race to the end. National Democrats have considered backing Case, who many believe has a better chance of winning, and have urged Hanabusa's supporters to get her to step aside.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, who has endorsed Hanabusa, gave $100,000 of his campaign money to the DCCC for possible use against Djou. The senator has appealed to national Democrats to stay neutral.
Neal Milner, a University of Hawai'i-Mānoa political science professor, said the DCCC is making a "clear-eyed" assessment.
"I think they probably figure that they have done all they can," he said.
The all-mail special election has received national attention because it could be used as a barometer as the two-major political parties prepare for the midterm elections in November.
Ballots were mailed last week, and voting ends on May 22.
National Democrats do not want a loss in President Obama's hometown district in traditionally Democratic Hawai'i.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has not paid for campaign ads in the Islands and is instead steering ad money toward a special election for Congress this month in Pennsylvania. The Republican National Committee, however, transferred $90,400 to the Hawai'i Republican Party in March, which the local GOP used to help pay for Djou ads.
Independent Women's Voice, a national conservative group that backs limited government, free markets, and personal responsibility, made a significant ad buy in Hawai'i this week aimed at Case.
The six-figure ad buy portrays Case as a "tax raising liberal" who claims to be a moderate.
"I share the obvious frustration of my former colleague, Chris Van Hollen, with the failure of Colleen and her supporters to do the right thing," Case said in a statement. "Over the last months it has become crystal clear to the DCCC, DNC (Democratic National Committee) and now the White House that Colleen cannot win and that her only role is to boost the candidacy of Charles Djou.
"It's also now crystal clear that she and her handlers care only about maintaining their own power and the status quo, not about what's best for our party, Hawai'i and country."
Hanabusa, in a statement, said voters should be the ones to decide who is viable. "With the backing of our enthusiastic volunteers and grassroots support, this campaign continues to move ahead in this race to let the voters of the 1st Congressional District decide their next representative to Congress," she said.
Djou also said voters should decide. "We have said from the beginning, this race would be decided by the voters of the district and not by outside interest groups," he said in a statement. "Throughout this campaign we have had an ongoing conversation with the many people who are concerned with the direction the current Congress is taking the American people and I look forward to being a voice they can count on in Washington, D.C., if I'm fortunate enough to be elected on May 22nd."