Battle of generations looms in Senate race
Rep. Ed Case has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Daniel Akaka, 30 years his senior.
REP. Ed Case has quickly turned what looked to be a lackluster election year into an earthshaking battle
that could tear apart the Democratic Party. His challenge of Senator Akaka in his bid for re-election is premised on the valid concern that Hawaii could be left powerless in the Senate in the event of the state's two aged senators exiting the institution in close succession.
Akaka's liberal voting record and Case's centrist posture will be secondary to the issue of seniority, on which committee assignments are based. Case, 51, has made long-term seniority the issue, and Akaka, beloved as he is in both Hawaii and Capitol Hill, will be called upon to refute the scenario of a future seniority crisis.
Senator Inouye is among the Senate's most tenured Democrats, now serving his eighth term since his election in 1962. His effectiveness in bringing federal dollars to Hawaii has been demonstrated time and again. Akaka, appointed to the Senate in 1990 following the death of Sen. Spark Matsunaga, is completing his second full term. The power of both senators is diminished as long as Republicans control the Senate.
Both Akaka and Inouye are 81 and neither has discouraged presumptions that he plans to serve the rest of his life in the Senate. "I love this job," Inouye remarked at several intervals in a recent meeting with the Star-Bulletin's editorial board. Obviously, so does Akaka.
Many political observers expected the first opening in the Senate would result in a Democratic primary duel between Case and Rep. Neil Abercrombie. That will not happen as scripted, and Abercrombie naturally is stunned by the development.
Inouye and Abercrombie are supporting Akaka's re-election, and Abercrombie reportedly said the issues in the election should be loyalty, humility and compassion. Case maintains the main issue should be preparation for a new generation in Congress. Voters deserve a debate between the two men in deciding which issues are more important.
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