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HI-01: Case Staying in Race as Revisionist Spin Applied

With the special election in HI-01 over, things now settle down into a more regular format. Charles Djou goes to Washington for his 7-month tour of duty, and in September, Democrats will hold a primary to replace him, with the general election set for just six weeks later in November. Despite his disappointing third-place finish on Saturday, Ed Case will still run in that primary.

“I went surfing; I went to the beach; I did look at the results, and I made the decision that I’m running again,” Case told POLITICO.

“My basic message to my party is that Hanabusa cannot beat Djou and I will. The results prove that in spades. … He will hold his votes and enough of the people that voted for me will vote for Djou to get him over 50 percent.”

His comments make clear that the bad blood between Case and Hanabusa during the special election has not subsided, and that both are headed towards a repeat of their divisive special election feud, which led to Republican Charles Djou winning Hawaii’s traditionally Democratic 1st District this past weekend.

I’m trying to figure out how the results prove that, but obviously Case is claiming he’s not a real Democrat and the natural second choice for his voters would be a Republican. What a great message for a Democratic primary!

Case’s claim is that he was beaten down by both Hanabusa and Djou, and to an extent the campaign backs that up, with evidence that the NRCC and GOP-aligned groups did attack the former Congressman. But clearly that plays a part in the decision to run again, no? Case showed a glass jaw in the face of attacks, and Hanabusa over-performed. I see no reason why that wouldn’t hold in a primary which plays to Hanabusa’s strengths, i.e. being a real Democrat.

Chris Van Hollen and the D-Trip are reportedly scrambling for a “compromise candidate” who can bring together the factions of the party. I don’t think there are any factions. There are the politically aligned in Hawaii and there’s Ed Case, who got 27% of the vote in a high-turnout primary despite being a former Congressman and having the highest name ID. I don’t understand this rush to declare Hanabusa unelectable; despite practically all the mail flowing in one direction, Democrats took around 59% of the two-party vote. Nobody’s unelectable in that environment. Hanabusa can and will be the next House member from that district.

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David Dayen

David Dayen