Tuesday's vote is more about '08 and '10
CONSIDER Hawaii's fourth election of the new millennium as the opening move of a political chess match.
By itself, Tuesday's election is as dull as Saturday night in Hilo, but there is more to it than the expected re-elections of the heavily favored Sen. Dan Akaka and Gov. Linda Lingle.
The 2006 election will be remembered as the start of a realignment in Hawaii's political dynasties.
If Lingle wins re-election, she will continue to change the direction of the state by actively changing boards, commissions and court appointments. By the end of her second term, Lingle will have populated all the boards and commissions with people to her liking.
At the same time, she will have built enough of a political machine to propel herself into another election.
Answering what that next election could be is the biggest part of this political chess game.
Obviously with two 82-year-old senators and a 67-year-old congressman, Hawaii is due for some congressional change. And that brings up the second part of the millennium political equation: all those viable Democrats who lost in the 2nd Congressional District primary.
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Brian Schatz and even Sen. Gary Hooser and former Sen. Matt Matsunaga have found new life after their September defeat.
Perhaps the largest change is with Hanabusa, who for six years in the Legislature as a lone wolf is becoming a Democratic Party team player. And Schatz, who cultivated the idealistic independent image, is now also looking to help the Democratic Party.
Who will go where, and when will they go?
Lingle could run in 2010 for Sen. Dan Inouye's seat, if the senator decides to retire. Facing Inouye, however, is not a viable option for Lingle or any other state politician.
Hanabusa and Schatz could be a 2010 team for governor and lieutenant governor. But either of them could easily jump into a race for Congress in 2008.
Interestingly, Rep. Neil Abercrombie reportedly has been telling supporters that he wants to make good on his promise to run for governor. Abercrombie batted the idea around this year, but says he was unable to figure out how to fund the race. With four years to save up money, he, too, would be a viable candidate.
In any political equation, Ed Case will be a factor, either by running or endorsing. Case's team from his failed senatorial campaign says Case could run for anything from Honolulu mayor in two years, Congress or the Senate.
Finally, that large fellow now occupying City Hall, Mayor Mufi Hannemann would be likely to win re-election in 2008 and be in place for a 2010 race for governor.
If this election fails to excite, just remember the game is already on for the next two elections.
writes on politics every Sunday in the Star-Bulletin. He can be reached at 525-8630 or by e-mail at email@example.com