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Hanabusa: Blinded by Ambition

Rep Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) has chosen to primary Sen. Brian Schatz(D-HI) which creates real problems for the Democrats’ plan to take back the house.

Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)

Hanabusa, a conservative member of the Blue Dog successor caucus, New Democrat Coalition [sic], was previously endorsed by unions,, Sierra Club.  What she appears unable to comprehend is that her endorsements were a result of these organizations choosing the least bad of a mediocre lot and definitely not wanting Teapartier Charles Djou (R) to win.

Along with the late Sen Daniel Inouye hand-picking her as his anointed successor, this has emboldened her with a false sense of confidence.  Down with Tyranny discusses this at length in an article entitled Hanabusa at a Crossroads– Will It Lead Back to Congress?

The article talks about Hanabusa’s weak campaign which, other than the beyond-the-grave Inouye connection, has not been able to garner support among the big players in Hawai’i.

The article says:

Speculation continues as to why, beyond personal ambition and an apparent sense of personal destiny, Hanabusa chose to force a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Does Hanabusa feel “entitled” to the seat, given her association with the late Senator Dan Inouye? Does she simply resent not being chosen to replace Senator Inouye when his Senate seat opened up last December? Is this a grudge match?

Most political watchers (including myself) would agree that this is the reasoning.  Other than a burning desire to please her military contractor donors and continue FISA spying on Americans, Hanabusa really doesn’t have any deeply held causes.  Ambition seems to be what drives her.

Down with Tyranny goes on to say:

Hanabusa’s Senate campaign is not exactly off to the whiz-bang start she likely assumed it would be. Nearly every one of the 24 unions and progressive groups endorsing Schatz for U.S. Senate had previously endorsed Hanabusa for Congress.

The largest player in the environmental area, The Sierra Club, has yet to endorse in this race.  (Their process is exceedingly slow due to multiple layers of Club sign-offs required for each decision and the fact that volunteers need to be rounded up for meetings in order to actually do the signing off)  If Sierra Club endorses Schatz it is Game Over for Hanabusa.  No politician who is supported by both the Sierra Club and labor ever loses in Hawaii.

The Sierra Club endorsement, however, is not much in doubt given that Sen Schatz has made ameliorating Climate Change his main cause.  Sierra Club has just launched the “Beyond Coal” campaign.  Hanabusa voted with the GOP to exempt coal-fired boilers from increased EPA standards and actually brags about it on her site!  Not the best of moves for someone who’s fate depends on getting the Sierra Club endorsement.

Down with Tyranny goes on to speculate that Hanabusa will see the writing on the wall and drop out of the Senate race.

Meanwhile, it’s very telling that no discernible field of would-be congressional candidates has truly begun taking shape in CD-01. Given how rare an open seat in Hawaii’s small congressional delegation tends to be, you’d expect candidates from both parties to be leaping into the Hanabusa void….

…This could be the surest sign that growing talk of Hanabusa abandoning her Senate bid, and seeking re-election to Congress instead, is more than just murmurs on the coconut wireless.

This is where I differ with them.  Hanabusa has been repeatedly told by the organizations who endorsed her last race and have now switched to endorsing Sen Schatz, “Go back and run for the House seat and we’ll endorse you.”  She was told that before she announced. She was told that when she interviewed after she announced.  But she is a stubborn woman bent on getting the position she feels was supposed to be hers and she refuses to face reality.

Here’s the danger that Down with Tyranny warns about:

Moreover and more importantly, Hanabusa’s decision to run for Senate has serious consequences for Hawaii: By forsaking her hard-won seat in Congress, Hanabusa has opened the door for a Republican to steal her seat (anyone remember GOPer Charles Djou’s 8-month stint as congressman?). Word is, leaders at the DCCC in Washington have Hanabusa’s now-open CD-1 seat on their “watch” list– as if they don’t have enough to worry about as Democrats try to win back control of the House. And Hanabusa’s decision to willfully vacate Congress means Hawai’i loses her post as a member of the powerful House Armed Services Committee. Not sure what else needs to be said about that, given the primacy of military operations and construction to Hawaii’s economy.

Absolutely right on.  With a lackluster field of potential candidates for Hanabusa’s house seat and nobody actually declaring, this seat is up for grabs.  In fact, if Hanabusa wants to remain in Congress, she better jump back to her House seat soon.  Word is that various big organizations are even now getting ready to recruit and endorse in that race in order to head off Djou or another Republican.  If Hanabusa waits too long, her political career is pau*.

*pau – Hawaiian word meaning ended, over, done.


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