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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 7, 2010

Who sabotaged Democrat machine?

By Lee Cataluna

What happened to the well-oiled Hawai'i Democratic Party machine? It's sputtering like a Bondo-patched beater trying to climb H-1 by Red Hill.

Blame Colleen Hanabusa. If she wasn't so stubbornly clinging to her sinking campaign, the Democrats wouldn't be afraid of losing yet another seat in Congress, and this time, from President Obama's home state.

But then again, don't blame Hanabusa. If a candidate can't hold onto her own goals and ambitions, there's not much else she can hold on to.

OK, so blame Ed Case. If Case hadn't gotten the big-head and made the colossally impudent move to run against avuncular Dan Akaka, he would still have his seat in Congress and Hanabusa would be duking it out with Mazie Hirono, a lightweight when it comes to a street scrap.

Speaking of, blame Hirono, too. If she hadn't set the precedent in 2002 of dropping out of a race because the Democratic operatives told her she couldn't win, there might not be the strong expectation for Hanabusa to get the heck out of Case's way.

While we're at it, blame Neil Abercrombie, who didn't have the good sense to stay in Washington for the rest of his natural life like any other normal politician. Why give it up for a shot at the thankless job of governor during the state's worst budget crisis?

Blame Mufi Hannemann for that. If Abercrombie didn't hate Hannemann so much he might not have been motivated to leave D.C. to take on this grudge match.

Blame Dan Inouye for refusing to change his mind to save his party.

Blame Dan Akaka for only politically wounding Case and not shooting to kill his career.

Blame Obama and the national Democrats for not having the guts to make a straight-up endorsement.

Blame Charles Djou for not having any bones rattling around his closet and thus robbing the Demo----crats' attack ads of much traction. (I have this memory of Djou on Election Day eight years ago standing in line at Hawai'i Kai Costco buying pallets of bottled water for his campaign headquarters. Water, not booze, and buying it himself, not sending out a helper.)

The Democratic machine used to be a fearsome thing. Party leaders strategized years in advance, groomed candidates, and plotted who would run and when. Now, with ballots already mailed, they're still whispering behind their hands about who has a chance and who should drop out.

Too late!

And if a bunch of those ballots go into the circular file, can you really blame voters?