Isle race for Senate does not resemble Connecticut
U.S. Senate contenders faced off as Sen. Joe Lieberman lost to challenger Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary in Connecticut.
WHILE Democratic voters in Connecticut were denying Sen. Joe Lieberman their blessing for a fourth term, Sen. Dan Akaka and Rep. Ed Case were toughing it out in a joint appearance
-- but not a debate -- at a Hawaii Publishers Association luncheon. If either Akaka or Case is encouraged by the Lieberman defeat -- anti-incumbent or anti-war? -- he would be wrong.
Akaka might be cheered by reports that the Connecticut victory by millionaire businessman Ned Lamont was a reflection of Democrats' angst about the war in Iraq. They were angry about the extent to which Lieberman and President Bush embraced each other on the issue; Bush went so far as to kiss Lieberman on the cheek at last year's State of the Union speech.
Case has fashioned himself as a centrist, while Akaka is an unabashed liberal. Akaka suggested at the luncheon that Case is among "individuals who claim to be Democrats but vote to the contrary," but he just as well could have been referring to Lieberman -- or Sen. Dan Inouye.
Lieberman's lifetime voting record in the Senate earns him a 76 percent ranking by the Americans for Democratic Action, longtime barometer of liberalism. That is slightly to the left of Inouye's 73 percent. Akaka registers at 92 percent.
That might explain why Inouye and two other moderate Democratic senators, Ken Salazar of Colorado and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, pledged before last Tuesday's primary to continue supporting Lieberman's candidacy as an independent, if necessary, in the general election.
The ADA, based on 20 votes during a year, show that Case voted its way 85 percent of the time in 2005, 90 percent in 2004 and 95 percent in 2003. Rep. Neil Abercrombie voted the ADA's way 100 percent, 85 percent and 95 percent respectively for those years.
Meanwhile, the American Conservative Union's rankings gave both of Hawaii's representatives 12 percent last year, plus a lifetime record of 8 percent for Abercrombie's 15 years and 19 percent for Case's three years in the House. Case clearly is not an elephant in donkey's clothing.
Not surprisingly, Akaka is emphasizing their differences on the issue of the war in Iraq, central to Lieberman's defeat. Akaka voted four years ago against the resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and, along with Inouye, was among only 13 senators who voted in June for a resolution calling for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn within a year.
Case supported the 2002 war authorization while campaigning for his first term but, like many Americans, now says he would not have done so if he had known that Iraq lacked weapons of mass destruction. Like many Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he opposes a specific withdrawal date.