Obama comes down on Akaka's side
The Illinois senator will not support U.S. Rep. Ed Case's bid
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat who has been called "Hawaii's third senator," has rejected U.S. Rep. Ed Case's attempt to unseat U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
Case called Obama on Wednesday and asked whom he is supporting in the Hawaii Democratic primary. Obama said he is backing Akaka.
"He told him he supports Sen. Akaka completely, and he is proud to call him a colleague and a friend," Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
"He told him that he serves with Sen. Akaka on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and he has seen firsthand how hard he works for our nation's veterans and for the people of Hawaii," Vietor added.
Case, who represents the neighbor islands and rural Oahu in Congress, shocked Hawaii's political world last month by announcing he would run for Akaka's seat in the primary.
The endorsement from Obama is a big plus for Akaka because Obama grew up in Hawaii, graduated from Punahou School and has been called "Hawaii's third senator" by Hawaii's congressional delegation.
Obama won his Senate seat in 2004. He attracted national attention after delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic national convention.
Case confirmed the telephone conversation with Obama, saying he wanted to know whom Obama would support.
"He said he had no choice but to endorse Sen. Akaka, that even neutrality would be viewed as indirectly opposing him," Case said.
"It is not unexpected. The Senate is a club. It is not unusual for senators to support each other in primaries," Case added.
Akaka has already won the support of fellow Hawaii Democrat U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and of the Senate's Democratic leadership, including Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.