Talkin' 'bout a new generation
DEMOCRATS never make it easy.
The state's majority party, which somehow cannot come up with a major candidate for the governor's race, managed this week to have two of its most electable politicians run against each other.
If this is machine politics, get some oil on the gears. As Sen. Dan Akaka, who has been in Congress for 30 years, lines up against 53-year-old Rep. Ed Case, the Democrats face the dilemma of shooting their kupuna or eating their young.
Case's campaign is based on actuarial tables and his own self-assessment. No one lives forever and we must begin to put in place the people who will serve when our two honorable senators, Akaka and Dan Inouye, depart, Case reasons. Besides, Case says he can't think of anyone better prepared to handle the U.S. Senate than himself.
Akaka counters, "I'm not done yet." Never one for the spotlight, Akaka is without detractors in Washington.
IF CASE is the eager, articulate and hard-working attorney you want representing you, Akaka is the akamai grandfather who teaches you to play the ukulele and maybe helps you out of a jam.
Political veterans at the Capitol reason that Case's campaign would succeed if he and Akaka faced each other in the general election. But the pair are in the September Democratic primary election with the smaller pool of just Democratic voters.
In the Democratic primary, Case will be opposed by public employee labor unions, which didn't care for his attempts to reform the state civil service laws. Hawaiians are likely to vote for a native son and not Case. Democratic Party stalwarts such as the AJA voters are also expected to vote for Akaka.
Case will attract younger Democratic voters, according to the conventional wisdom, but how many will actually turn out to vote?
Finally, Case will be running not just against Akaka, but also against Inouye and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who has always considered that if anyone should be in the Senate, it should be him.
YOUNGER voters, however, are already saying this is the year for a change. It is a generational shift and it is time for the baby boomers to have an exciting, gutsy candidate such as Ed Case to represent them.
"I look at it as us against our parents' generation. Akaka and Inouye are like my grandparents. I respect them and I honor them, but it is time for them to step aside," a 40-something downtown professional told me. "I was at a fundraiser last night and it was all my friends could talk about -- finally our own candidate."
"This is a campaign setting up the rock generation against elevator music," he said.
Today Democrats are still in shock about Case's bold announcement, but in the fall they will have to choose: Genoa Keawe or the Eagles.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at email@example.com