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StarBulletin.com

Off to the House clad in red, white and blue


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POSTED: Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clever the way posters for Colleen Hanabusa artfully highlight the last three letters of her name, subtly introducing the element of patriotism necessary for political campaigns.

Ed Case and Charles Djou, the two other candidates who have practicable chances for election to the U.S. House seat Neil Abercrombie vacated, aren't blessed with names that lend themselves to similar typographic messaging.

They must content themselves with signaling loyalty to country by using the hues of Old Glory on campaign material. Choosing orange or brown or mustard as primary colors for campaigns just isn't done, and green is dicey except for maybe a stand-up environmentalist in a provincial race.

So it's the requisite red, white and blue for big-time campaigns.

On Web sites, the congressional hopefuls post the other accessories typical of candidacies, like photos and videos of smiling spouses, children and supporters of various demographic sectors, biographical highlights that accentuate experience and local roots, and even such warm and fuzzy features as recipes for bread pudding. Stands on issues are there, too, but not as prominently.

Fine and good. Voters want to know about the candidates, even if they all turn out to be lawyers.

Some are looking for the person with whom they may have the most in common, whether it be background, lifestyle, points of view, expectations, beliefs or opinions.

Others will simply base their choice on more superficial matters, like a tasty bread pudding or tripe stew recipe.

Hanabusa is considered a traditional Democrat. Having gained the support of the heftiest of Hawaii's Democrats, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, she will likely draw from the party's orthodox voters.

Case also wears the Democrat label, but his independence from the establishment and less-than-supplicant reputation could put him on the margins, or attract voters unconstrained by historical convention.

Djou has impressed mainland Republicans with his precise and faithful articulation of the party's conservative menu. He is touted as someone who could dislodge Democrats' hold on Hawaii representation in Washington.

Hanabusa, Case and Djou are all intelligent, ambitious and shrewd, but the halls of Congress are packed with equally smart, zealous people who are keenly cunning as well.

Democrat or Republican, Hawaii's representative will be required to cleave to an agenda broader and possibly in conflict with what's best for islanders. At times, he or she will have to yield in order to accomplish something for the nation as a whole, even when the results don't favor the state.

Whoever gets to finish Abercrombie's term will have an advantage in the next election, so it's safe to say either Hanabusa, Case or Djou will be out of sight for most of the next two years.

But that individual should keep in mind who carried them to the hill. An easy reminder would be to drop the "A" from the abbreviated name for this country.