Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

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.

Tags: Daniel Akaka, Ed Case, Hawaii (all tags)



Sort of a side issue...

  Has Chuck Schumer weighed in on Case's primary challenge? If Akaka decides to mount an independent bid, will Schumer "not rule out" supporting him?
by Master Jack 2006-06-19 03:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

I've never been in Hawaii and don't know anyone who has. Nevertheless, I wonder why an 81 year old Senator has not groomed a replacement? Is it the lust for power like Lieberman?

I may be doing Akaka an injustice, but I wonder.

by antiHyde 2006-06-19 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

When I heard Akaka was running this year, I thought it was weird. We have a pretty deep Democratic bench in Hawaii, yes?

by mlangenmayr 2006-06-19 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Neil Abercrombie is supposed to be next in line in HI politics but Ed Case jumped the queue w/ this primary challenge.  Mentioning Akaka in the same sentence as Lieberman is simply insulting.

by TulaneDem 2006-06-20 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Sorry, I don't mean to insult anyone. Just that's how it looks to an outsider.

by antiHyde 2006-06-20 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Hawaii and Alaska have some weird blood-pact against the continential 48 states that they will always vote to support each other's interests.

by Bob Brigham 2006-06-19 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Maybe 'weird' isn't the right word, if Wyoming and Nebraska had the same relationship that would be weird. I think a better word would be 'unique' when describing the reason why Hawaii and Alaska always vote for each other's interests. On a lot of levels, it makes complete sense.

by Bob Brigham 2006-06-19 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

There is certainly a lot going on behind the scenes here.  Race is a big deal in Hawai'i, the only state with a non euro-american majority.  And we're not dealing with a simple black-white situation but many shades of brown and pink.  This is a place where being named "Ed Case" is a pretty big disadvantage in a race against "Dan Akaka" even before voters consider the candidates.

First, let's deal with the reasons Hawai'i's current senators want to tear open the Arctic Refuge and caribou calving grounds for oil and clear cut the last of our large intact ancient forests in the Tongass.  Akaka's native culture bill isn't it because if it were, he would have seen it passed, implemented, funded, and probably enhanced years ago.

What it is about is the Alaska native settlement agreement.  Instead of setting up reservations like we did in the lower 48, we set up Alaska native corporations.  These corporations pay out big money to the right people.  Alaska natives don't have to work at all if they are even mildly good at making the right friends.  They live a life of recreational hunting, fishing, partying an the like.  Most of this is paid for by oil money.  Native culture has been redefined to be groveling for money with the local corporation board which then deals with the federal government and outside interests to compete for giant buckets of cash to distribute.

There are a few groups of naties still living off the land in various places but the lure of free money lures most Alaska natives into these top-down cash economy camps where outsiders do almost all the work.  It's like being a extremely low grade Saudi prince with all the drunkenness and wastefulness but none of the luxury while others extract the oil.

The Alaska natives that live on the north slope near the caribou calving grounds and depend on wildlife in the area are fiercely opposed to drilling in the Arctic Refuge.  The Alaska native corporations with lots of money to promote their point of view and their anti-democratic fiefdoms around the rest of Alaska are always in favor of more money at any cost, just like you would expect.

Senator Dan Akaka has chosen the 'native' corporations over the people who live on the land and keep their culture.  He has chosen to wipe out the lifeline of Alaska natives living as Alaska natives for the sake of corporate money interests.

I have spent only a few months in Hawai'i, though I grew up with friends from there.  I have worked with Alaska natives on conservation causes.  

I favor withdrawl from Iraq and I'd sure vote for Ned Lamont if I were in CT, but I sent my money to Ed Case.  I'm not a single issue voter;  I just want a honest, representative, Democratic caucus running the Senate.

Ed and Ned for Senate '06.

by ChetEdModerate 2006-06-19 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Ed and Ned in '06?

So... you want to get rid of one Joe Lieberman in CT and put another Joe Lieberman in Hawaii instead?

by mlangenmayr 2006-06-19 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

I'd have little problem with Joe Lieberman if he were a loyal Democrat who disagreed with us on one or two issues.  Even important issues.  Heck, I like Ben Nelson and Bill Nelson just fine.

Lieberman is smart and active.  But he betrays the party and covers up what he believes in.  He attacks and tries to divide Dems on Fox news.  Hannity loves him for a reason.  It's one thing to kiss Bush, but Lieberman kisses him and really means it.

Ed Case is less progressive on some issues and more on others but he is not a Benedict Arnold Dem.  He has proven that he can go to Washington and not embarass us.

by ChetEdModerate 2006-06-19 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race


I'm a 35-year resident of Hawaii (kamaaina) and active with the Democratic Party.

To call this a race issue is absurd. Hawaii has been populated by races from all over, since the missionaries and plantation owners came to have a stronghold. When the US invaded Hawaii on behalf of the corporate interests (sound familiar?), we lost our country. Still we have lived more or less at peace, celebrating our rich cultural heritage and the ethnic diversity that is present day Hawaii -- Hawaiians, Filipinos, Portugese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, haole (whites from all over the world) etc, etc.

The recent (10-year) influx of white americans is like another wave of missionaries. They come with their prejudices, their 'religion', their right wing politics, and their money and have added to a difficult situation in many ways. Even though many of these would support Ed Case, they are really Republicans, and this is a proud Democratic state. Parts of Hawaii are more progressive than anywhere else in America, so this new wave of monied interests adds to our woes, traffic, housing problems, etc, etc. -- and challenges our historic solidarity in people politics.

Akaka has broad support because he was our first Hawaiian senator. And he has served our state well. (voted against the war;-) Hence his stand in Alaska has been disconcerting to say the least. I'm sure his motivation is good, but hey, he's wrong! and if he and our other Dan are trading votes for more defense money to Hawaii -- well, there are plenty of us who don't want that either...striker brigades filling our limited roadways, practice wars on islands, more bases (with all the complications they bring)...

It's a new world, and we desperately need enlightened leadership here in Hawaii as elsewhere. But this is NOT a race thing. Case says he offers new leadership, but lots of Dems think he's Republican light...and we've had enough of that with our governor.

It's going to be a tough decision for the state, especially if Lingle jumps in the race. In a perfect world, Akaka would be 30 years younger and Case would vote the way I want him to.

A hui ho

by kalena 2006-06-19 06:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

As one who was born and raised here, I agree that demographics are driving this, but race is not the most salient factor. Just recently, people who were born and raised here have become a minority. The population on the neighbor islands--which is Akaka's district--has been exploding. Maui (where Lingle was governor), I believe, now has a majority caucasian population, but again, this is not about race, but about class. In addition to the silicon-millionaires buying their vacation homes, immigrants from Asia are no longer working class (and unionized) labor, but wealthy entrepreneurs.

Case likes to promote his outsider status. That's because if he was anymore outside, he'd be where he belongs--in the Republican party.

by hono lulu 2006-06-19 11:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

"First, let's deal with the reasons Hawai'i's current senators want to tear open the Arctic Refuge and caribou calving grounds for oil and clear cut the last of our large intact ancient forests in the Tongass.  Akaka's native culture bill isn't it because if it were, he would have seen it passed, implemented, funded, and probably enhanced years ago."

Akaka's bill is actually the reason both of Hawaii's Democratic Senators supported drilling in ANWR. And it's the same reason Ted Stevens supports their bill. Both state's Senators said as much in a piece I read in the Seattle Times awhile ago.

by wjpugliese 2006-06-19 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

That doesn't explain why they haven't traded their votes for, say, an unrelated Pro-Life Constitutional amendment to win the vote of Tom Coburn (R-teenage lesbians) for that one bill.  Or the reason they don't vote for the Anti-Marriage amendment to win the support of Rick Santorum (R-man on dog).

Most of all it doesn't explain why with the support of Democrats and the extremely powerful Ted Stevens they can't get their bill through congress year after year after year.  

Unless it's just an excuse to cooperate with Alaska 'native' corporations and their millions and millions of dollars in slush funds.  Ah ha!

by ChetEdModerate 2006-06-19 09:29PM | 0 recs
Not true...

if the issue that matters most to you is conservation

by lorax 2006-06-19 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

I lived a long time in Hawaii. Hawaiians who I knew considered Alaskan natives as relatives. They knew it as part of oral history. They had theories about Hawaiian-Alaskan migration. So I don't understand any local person approving of drilling in ANWAR.

by mrobinsong 2006-06-19 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Not if your standard isn't conservative (Lieberman) v. moderate (Lamont) but reform (Lamont, Case) v. entrenched insider privilege (Lieberman, Akaka).

Releecting Akaka again is like giving Senator Bunning another term in 2004.  He's not an effective senator and even if Case isn't your first choice, he will be a loyal and effective Democratic voice.

Relecting Lieberman again is like inviting the bully who cheats us to keep on chopping us off at the knees on national television.

Ed and Ned for Senate '06.

by ChetEdModerate 2006-06-19 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Isn't it Inouye who has the storied friendship with Ted Stevens? How much do you suppose that relationship affects the political climate? I can see reasons for solidarity among the non-contiguous states.

The racial issue is an interesting dynamic. One poster said Hawai'i is "the only state with a non euro-american majority." I suppose Latin Americans are considered Euro-American, but that group will soon be the majority in California. In many districts candidates whose names end in z have an advantage, which is not a bad thing. One good thing about it is that candidates with European names have to work really hard to reach out to Latinos and that increases inclusion and participation. I wonder if Hawai'i is similar.

Very interesting exchange of ideas here.

by davefordemocracy 2006-06-19 09:43PM | 0 recs
Matt;s Lost It

The reason the Akaka bill is a divise issue in Hawaii is that it's the "half a loaf". True sympathizers of sovereignty hate the Akaka bill as undermining their dream of independence. The conservatives believe that the native Hawaiian population already has lots of benefits under state law and doesn't need the designation of a federal Native Americans.

Hawai'i is besot by lots of nasty problems, racial and otherwise. Case is hyperambitious...but his predecessor Patsy Mink died an awful death in office and there's reason to think Akaka may be incapacitated that way soon too.

The better question isn't why the Hawaiian Democrats support ANWR...it's why Mary Landrieu does as her state continues to dissovle into the Gulf of Mexico.

by risenmessiah 2006-06-19 11:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race
I've written before on this and for the record I do live in Hawaii.  It is laughable to compare Ed Case and Ned Lamont, just as its laughable to compare him to Akaka.  Case is no reformer and he is a conservationist only when its convenient for him.  He is a Blue Dog for crying out loud.  Akaka, other than the ANWR vote, has had a stellar record on the environment that spans generations.  
Some one talked about voting as a conservationist but what about voting on the Iraq war that Case supports and the Patriot Act that Case voted for?  How about the Bankruptcy Bill he voted for--the list continues. And just like Lieberman, Case bucked the party establishment when he was a state senator in Hawaii, he as opportunist who cuts deals to further his own political ambition--he is no party guy, make no mistake about it.
Look, Akaka may be old and pretty much worthless but he will die soon and then we can get a real progressive in office.  The line that Hawaii needs to build seniority now is stupid.  Inouye will be out in 2010 and we'll start over no matter what and wouldn't you rather have a strong progressive like Abercrombie in that seat.  Lets not be stuck with a DINO for years to come.
Oh and the reason no one was anointed to take his place is because of an inbreed state party--look at the squabble going on to replace Case, just ridiculous.  
by burroughs 2006-06-20 02:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

One other comment I meant to make, If Akaka dies or resigns in the next 4 years almost for sure re-elected Republican Govenor Lingle will appoint the "newly converted Democrat", say Jerry Coffe, Sam Sloane, Duke.  Who once seated can return to the Republican Isle.  Tell me the Democrats wouldn't do the same.  If you want 2 Democratic senators in 2010 yuo better support Case    

by philam 2006-06-20 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Really do not know where the idea that Ed Case is a conservative comes from.  Per Congressional watch, he is a left of Center moderate, not a Blue dog, but a blue stater.  The one thing you can definetly say is he's not a idealoge.  He looks at all sides of issues and makes what he thinks is the best decision.  What is wrong with that?  Akaka is a good man, I hope when I'm his age I'm half as cabable as he, but he really does not have the ability to reason or more important ability to persuade others thatCase has.  All Akaka does is blindly folow the direction of Inoyue and the Democratic Leadership.  Hawaii deserves beter!

by philam 2006-06-20 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Philam hits the nail on the head here; Case isn't really progressive enough for the Democratic base, but Akaka hasn't been particularly effective.  Hence the ambivalence.

by Kimmitt 2006-06-20 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

It might have something to do with the fact that:

1.  He's a member of the blue dog democrats; and


2.  Progressive punch rates him as the 162d (out of 202) most progressive Democrat in Congress

http://www.progressivepunch.org/members. jsp?chamber=House&party=D

by HSTruman 2006-06-20 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Appoligize I Certainly learned something.  I thought all the  Blue Dog Democrats were Conservatives.  The fact is Case does not have a conservative voting record and I did not think he could possibly be a Blue dog.  I'm Wrong.  I can not find it right now but I've seen unbiased analysis that puts Akaka Far left but Case As left of center moderate.  Will post when I find.  But again you are right!  What can I say eat Crow, but Still supporting Case.  

by philam 2006-06-22 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

No worries - just thought I'd provide the info I'm aware of.  Akaka is certainly a solid progressive, but I would suggest that Case probably is more conservative than you seem to think.  Take a look at that progressive punch link I posted above.  He's weeellll to the right of almost the entire Democratic House caucus.  

by HSTruman 2006-06-22 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

The understanding about Akaka and his deal with Stevens is correct.  Both Akaka and Inouye have sided with Stevens in the past, and will continue to do so until the ANWR issue is dead, beacuse of Stevens' support for moving the Akaka Bill.

"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."  I don't think this is case.  Hawaii residents are perfectly fine with voting for a white politician (Linda Lingle), as long as the person they're replacing represents the status quo or the old boy network.  If Case does win the primary, which I doubt will happen, it'll be because he successfully paints Akaka as ineffective and part of the old guard of Hawaii politics (ala previous Governors Waihee and Cayetano).  If a Democrat votes for Case, it'll primarily be about that person wanting a new and young 'leader' in the Hawaii Democratic Party.  Akaka, with his low-energy, certainly hasn't been that -- there's an old joke that the only thing Akaka does in D.C. is give the Senate tours.

by ehananoki 2006-06-20 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

I have to admit I really like the idea that at 53 Case is considered "young" (he's a month older than me):-).  Seriously though look at what Case has done in the much less august House (1 of 435) with 3 years seniority as compared to what Akaka has done as 1 of 100 in 16 years.  Akaka is an ideologue, far Left, follower, way past his best by date.  Good man, poor Senator.  

by philam 2006-06-20 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Not true...

your answer is disingenuous.  conservation wouldn't have to be the only issue you care about to make you support Case, but if it is the most important one, then that would be a very good reason to support Case.

by lorax 2006-06-25 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Akaka, Hawaii, Case, and Race

Wouldn't it be ironic if Lamont goes to the Senate from CT, yet his votes are cancelled out by D-in-name-only, pro-Bush/Pro-Iraq war Ed Case from Hawaii?  We need to fight to keep Akaka in the Senate.  Spread the word and Support Akaka!

by schultzy 2006-06-27 07:21PM | 0 recs


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