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Thursday, November 23, 2000

Case considers
run for governor,

The Manoa representative
led House Democrats for two
years until a recent upheaval

By Richard Borreca

Democratic state Rep. Ed Case is thinking about running for either governor or Congress in two years.

Case, 48, who has represented the Manoa House district since 1994, recently broke with the majority Democrats in the state House, after serving as Democratic leader for two years.

He said he doesn't have an exploratory committee but has "talked to close friends and family" about a run for higher office.

"The bigger question is where do I go with my political career -- forward, neutral or out," Case said.

Case said he doesn't want to run for either lieutenant governor or a county office, but was thinking about Congress or governor.

Case said he represents the majority of Hawaii voters who want change at the Legislature and in state government, with more openness and action on bills to modernize public employee laws.

Last year, while Democratic majority leader, Case split with the majority Democrats over the issue of civil-service reform.

Case supported a measure fashioned on a bill first proposed by Gov. Ben Cayetano, while other Democrats backed off in favor of a bill the public employee unions wanted.

"I saw an abuse of power," he said. "I saw a system of internal consensus building to which we had all subscribed basically get thrown out the window, and my colleagues go along with it.

"For me, that was the point where I departed," Case said.

Likely candidates for governor in the Democratic primary are Mayor Jeremy Harris and Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono.

In the past, Case has attracted the praise of Cayetano.

Yesterday, while Case said he would not ask for an endorsement by Cayetano, he said he believed his possible campaign could be compared to Cayetano's early statewide races.

"I think Gov. Cayetano had somewhat the same situation that I have, in that he didn't have a network when he ran for governor and lieutenant governor," Case said.

"But the people who he hadn't met were receptive to him taking over statewide office, because they felt he represented them."

Asked yesterday about Case's future, Cayetano praised him, but declined any endorsement.

"I think Ed Case is a gutsy, intelligent and big-picture leader," Cayetano said.

"He has the potential to make an excellent governor, but there are many gutsy intelligent big-picture leaders. The key thing to winning the governorship is getting people to support you," Cayetano said.

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