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HI-01: AFL-CIO Comes In For Hanabusa

I’ve been writing about the special election in Hawaii, where the DCCC has apparently favored LieberDem Ed Case over Colleen Hanabusa in the winner-take-all special election to replace Neil Abercrombie, who is running for Governor. With two prominent Democrats on the ballot and only one Republican, Charles Djou, there is concern that splitting the Dem vote will tip the scales over to Djou.

Well, labor has a different conception of which Democrat should be supported to prevent such a scenario, and they’re getting involved in the race starting this week, promoting Colleen Hanabusa as the most worker-friendly candidate.

Labor unions are set to drop 2 mail pieces in support of Hanabusa this week, a source tells Hotline OnCall, aimed at convincing union workers that Case’s record is out of step with labor’s political goals. An AFL-CIO mailer and one from the Longshoreman’s union highlight some issues on which Case stands against labor positions while touting Hanabusa’s work on unions’ behalf.

Hanabusa has backing from the HI teachers union, a powerful force in state politics. And the mailers are aimed at the district’s 52K AFL-CIO members and 30K Working America members, according to union figures, a significant portion of the electorate.

Case, meanwhile, hewed to more centrist positions during his time in Congress. He left in ’07 after falling short in a primary bid against Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), a race that caused rifts between Case and the state party establishment. Both Akaka and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) back Hanabusa.

FDL News has obtained the two mailers, and they really slam Ed Case (both PDFs):

Mailer 1
Mailer 2

The first mailer criticizes Case for supporting layoffs for public employees, cutting pensions, watering down benefits, privatizing health care and public employee jobs, and even weakening worker safety laws. The second mailer, from the ILWU, says “Ed Case will put your job at risk,” and hits him for wanting to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act, “which ensures domestic vessels are built and crewed by American workers.” Both mailers tout Colleen Hanabusa as “the best candidate for working families.”

AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale tells FDL News that this is only the beginning of a continuing campaign between now and the election, including mail, phone banks, canvassing and GOTV support. “For us the decision was based on support for working families, we think Hanabusa will be much better on those,” Vale said in an email exchange.

This is an aggressive counterpoint to the rumored support from the DCCC for Ed Case. So far the D-Trip has only dropped about $47,000 into ads criticizing Charles Djou.

Labor certainly is not deferring to the judgment of national Democratic operatives in this race.

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David Dayen

David Dayen