Hawaii GOP Primary "Endorsements"

In a strange sense, it is interesting that Hawaii is even being discussed in GOP circles, but such is the mood in politics this year.  Dynamics specific to the Aloha State make some races very noteworthy this year starting with the gubernatorial race.

Democratic incumbent Neil Abercrombie is not exactly the most popular man in Hawaii politics.  He faces his own primary challenge from a serious contender state senator, David Ige.  On the GOP side, there are three candidates, only one serious.  That is Duke Aiona, the former Lt. Governor under popular ex-Republican Governor Linda Lingle.  Assuming Abercrombie survives his primary, there is a very real opportunity that Aiona could win the gubernatorial race in which case Barack Obama would be retiring to a state run by a Republican Governor.  All bets would be off, however, if Ige wins the Democratic primary so it will be interesting to see how far the national Democratic Party goes in support of Abercrombie.

All of this primarily stems from the appointment by Abercrombie of current Senator Brian Schatz to fulfill the term of the deceased Daniel Inouye.  It was allegedly asserted that Inouye wanted 1st District Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa appointed, but Abercrombie chose Schatz.  This decision has created an interesting political chain of events in Hawaii.  Schatz is seeking the seat for a full term in 2014, but will be opposed in his primary by Hanabusa who many expect to win.

Making the picture more complicated is the entry of independent candidate and former mayor of Honolulu Mufi Hannemann into the gubernatorial race.  He will likely draw votes from the eventual Democratic candidate for Governor (Ige or Abercrombie) thus increasing the chances of Aiona, the Republican.  If Hanabusa wins the Democratic nod for the Senate, she will easily win.  Thus, it makes no difference who wins on the GOP side.  The logical choice would be Sam Cavasso who gets the endorsement here fully aware that he will lose, but inflict some damage along the way and build up his political resume for a future run for office.  In the final analysis, should Schatz prevail, a race against Cavasso may be close in a losing cause for the GOP because Hawaii is solidly in the Democatic column.

In keeping with the domino effect of the Schatz appointment, since Hanabusa is now running for the Democratic nod for Senate, she vacates the 1st District.  Several highly qualified Democrats have entered the fray to replace her and make no mistake, this is a heavily Democratic district.  However, it was once represented by a Republican in recent years- Charles Djou.  While a Congressman- albeit on an appointed basis- he generally received high marks from his constituents.  In Djou, the GOP will not get a barn-burning conservative, but he is clearly the best chance the Republican Party has in Hawaii in a midterm election year.  Therefore, the endorsement goes to Charles Djou over his primary opponent, Allan Levene (who happens to be a resident of Georgia).

The 2nd District, represented by Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, is more problematic for the Hawaii GOP.  However, this represents a little of the Tea Party vs. Establishment “feud,” Hawaii style.  On the establishment side is Marissa Capelouto while the Tea Party candidate is David “Kawika” Crowley.  Neither of them really stands a chance in the general election and at some junctures, Crowley sounds more folksy and libertarian than his opponent.  But, this is Hawaii, not Kentucky.  Keeping Gabbard under 60% in November would be a small victory and establishing a beach head in Hawaii.  I say just go with David Crowley and the chips fall where they may and make the race more interesting.

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