LOW-KEY CAMPAIGNS ENTER FINAL WEEK
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sen. Daniel Akaka shared a laugh yesterday with Wayne Panoke, his former sixth-grade student at Kamehameha Schools, during the Hawaiian Vote Rally 2006 at Iolani Palace.
Case and Akaka chart different courses toward victory Saturday
The key will be independents and Republican cross-overs
As Ed Case and Dan Akaka scramble for votes in the closing week of the Democratic primary, the two men are looking in different places for the winning votes.
Although the contest is in the Democratic primary, the Case campaign is hoping to expand support by reaching outside the traditional Democratic base.
In comparison, Akaka is working to make the Democratic support group as strong as possible.
Interviews with campaign workers in both campaigns point to the differences in how each man hopes to win.
Akaka is gathering a strong coalition of unions and interest groups that have traditionally been allies of the local Democratic party. For instance, Walter Dods, an influential businessman and banker, who helped steer the political careers of former Gov. George Ariyoshi and Sen. Dan Inouye, has been heavily involved in the Akaka campaign.
In the closing days of the race, Akaka strategy resembles the traditional Hawaii Democratic party plan. There is a big rally and "family day" at McKinley High School, while Akaka himself will appear at selected coffee hours around the state with supporters. Meanwhile unions, lawyers and Democrats in the U.S. Senate are endorsing Akaka.
Akaka campaign workers say that getting union members to vote absentee, getting lots of identified Democratic voters to vote on election day and winning the historically Democratic voting blocks of neighbor islanders and Americans of Japanese Ancestry are the keys to an Akaka victory on Saturday.
Contrasting that is Case, who is running the same sort of low-key, untraditional campaign that he first showed in his unsuccessful 2002 campaign for governor.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Above, U.S. Rep. Ed Case shook hands with Kaleo Izumi and Lopaka Igarta. The rally featured entertainment, food booths and voter information.
Although he lost the race to former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono, by 1 percent, Case and his supporters were encouraged because polls predicted he would lose by 20 percent. Case went on to run for Congress and win.
Although the base of Case's support comes from Democrats, his supporters are looking to Republicans and independents to vote in the Democratic column on Saturday.
The keys to a Case victory are winning the middle and upper income white voters and the portion of the middle class that has voted independent while also holding on to his neighbor island supporters.
Case looks to the campaign success of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle as a way to win against the traditional Democratic establishment in Hawaii.
Casting himself as a moderate and fiscal conservative, Case hopes to peel away both moderate Republicans and independent Lingle supporters in the Democratic primary.
In the 2002 governor's race, Case won most of east and Windward Oahu, while losing the neighbor islands and Leeward Oahu.
Since then Case has devoted himself to working the grassroots in his rural Oahu and neighbor island 2nd Congressional District. With more than 170 community meetings under his belt, Case says he feels that he is well known and liked in his district.
The challenge now, Case says, is to shore up his support in the 1st Congressional District.