Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race
by Matt Stoller, Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 03:48:00 PM EDT
I read this post, Why does Sen. Akaka support Oil drilling in ANWR?, and it prompted me to recount a conversation I had with a Hawaii native who's quite savvy in Hawaii politics. Here's what he told me is going on.
Akaka's challenger is Ed Case, a hyperambitious politician on the far right of the Democratic party. Case comes from an extremely successful and well-heeled family (AOL founder Steve Case is his cousin), and as such, he is still talking about staying the course in Iraq and was a co-sponsor of the Bankruptcy Bill. Akaka is an 81 year old Senator, a progressive who doesn't have that much energy anymore. Daniel Akaka has a deal with Ted Stevens, trading concessions for Hawaii natives for ANWR drilling.
The below-the-radar issue in Hawaii seems to be race and resources. There has been massive immigration in Hawaii over the past twenty years, and there is a fault line between the new white immigrants and the native Hawaiians. Even though Case is one of the most reactionary Democrats in Congress, I'm told that white progressives are somewhat split on Akaka. The progressive Democrats of Hawaii have endorsed Akaka, but Case's message that Hawaii needs a young man as Senator seems to be working in at least some quarters.
Anyway, that's what I'm told. Any thoughts from Hawaiian readers would be much appreciated.