Case's challenge of Akaka rocks the Democratic Party boat
Seniority and experience versus the ability to do the job not just today but for the next two decades is the first big issue in the Democratic Primary race between Sen. Dan Akaka and U.S. Rep. Ed Case.
By raising the issue, Case says he is running against Akaka and Hawaii's political culture of not making waves. The culture is stifling the next generation, Case claims.
Since declaring to run against Akaka -- a 30-year congressional veteran, Case reports people telling him, "This is not the way it is done."
U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and U.S. Rep. Ed Case will appear in separate half-hour interviews in a PBS Island Insights special tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
The interviews will be rebroadcast at 3: 30 p.m. next Sunday on PBS (Oceanic Channel 10, KHET Channel 10, KMEB Channel 11).
Island Insights is co-sponsored by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Dan Boylan, a University of Hawaii history professor and MidWeek columnist, interviewed Akaka, and Richard Borreca, Star-Bulletin political writer, interviewed Case.
"I have done something here that is against the political culture of Hawaii. Maybe that is not the right way for us to continue to do things," said Case, who has four years' experience in Congress.
The 53-year old Democrat, along with his 81-year old opponent, taped separate interviews for PBS Hawaii that will be broadcast tomorrow evening.
During his interview, Case said his campaign "is not just about the transition in the U.S. Senate. This is not just about an orderly transition, or me saying I can do this job. It is about changing a political culture that voters don't like."
"I don't particularly think that the political culture in Hawaii has produced in and of itself the next generation. It has tended to stifle it and hold them back because we have been micro-managers and control freaks," Case complained.
In contrast, Akaka had no complaints about the local Democratic party, which has already had many of its most powerful members, including U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, endorse him.
"I feel the traditional people of Hawaii will be backing me. When I say traditional I also mean the people who have been in politics before and who have been very concerned about Hawaii's future," Akaka said.
Akaka said he has much more to contribute to Hawaii and that is why he is running for re-election.
"I have the experience, I have the seniority, I have the relationships and I have the influence to move things in the Senate. That makes a huge difference," Akaka said.
Case, however, sees himself as someone who can represent the state for several decades.
Asked why he didn't run for governor this year instead of the Senate, Case said it was all about how long he could serve.
"If I have my way I will go on for a couple of decades in elective public office. You compare four or eight years in the governorship versus a clear position happening now in Congress.
"Both senators are, realistically, nearing some end to their careers. Rep. Abercrombie is in his late 60s. I am 53.
"It is obvious to me that I am responsible for that next generation of leadership. It is a no-brainer as how I should serve Hawaii," Case said.
Both men were asked if they would appear together in a debate and Case said yes, while Akaka would not commit.
"I think voters are entitled to compare us," Case said.
Akaka said he felt his responsibility in the campaign was to let his voters know about him and that could be handled in several ways.
"We will see how things go down the line and when the time comes we will consider that," Akaka said about a possible debate. "I feel my responsibility in the campaign is to inform my constituents about how I am doing, what I want to do and what I can do.
"If I can do it by myself, I feel that is sufficient," Akaka said.
Case called Akaka a liberal and reliable vote for the Democratic minority in the Senate. In contrast, Case says he is a moderate and isn't afraid to vote against Democrats.
"I think Sen. Akaka has tended to be more to the extremes of the party philosophy," Case said during the television interview. "He has definitely followed the party line kind of vote.
"I have demonstrated a much more moderate, middle-of-the-road, independent voting pattern than did Sen. Akaka.
"Clearly, if I don't think my party is going in the right direction, I won't provide support," Case said.
Akaka answered, saying "being a liberal is in the eyes of the beholder."
"I am not liberal when it comes to the armed services. I am not liberal when it comes to the Akaka Bill (native Hawaii sovereignty and recognition legislation)," Akaka said.
ON HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION AND ARCTIC OIL
Here are the opinions of U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and his challenger U.S. Rep. Ed Case on two major issues that have come before Congress:
Native Hawaiian Sovereignty and Recognition (Akaka Bill):
» Case: "I would be a partner with Sen. (Dan) Inouye, who really has the relationships, seniority and experience to drive federal recognition and has been driving it.
"It would still be called the 'Akaka Bill' and I think it should be called the 'Akaka Bill,' but the fact that the senator is replaced with another senator is not going to make a difference."
» Akaka: "I see my age and experience as being very important to Hawaii. I look forward to continue to press for some of the causes we have. I will be pressing the majority leader (Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.) to set a date for the bill. When this bill is done, it is not the end ... there will still be a need for more federal legislation to take care of the concerns of Hawaiians."
Permit oil drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:
» Case: "We shouldn't drill in a wildlife refuge. We set it aside because it was incredibly vital not just to Alaska or our country, but to the world. You have to protect the few remaining special places in the world."
» Akaka: "I am an environmentalist, but this is an issue I differ with them, because my vote is for the indigenous people of Alaska. They asked me to help them. They said one way they could get resources and improvements to their quality of life was to drill for oil. The moment they come to me and say they don't want it, I am out."