GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ed Case celebrated with his family yesterday after receiving news he had gotten 43 percent of the vote in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Patsy Mink last year.
Victorious CaseU.S. Rep. Ed Case believes his election to Congress is evidence of a shift in Hawaii politics, perhaps a changing of the guard.
sees end of
The congressman says status-quoUnoffical election results
Democrats can no longer win
the larger races in Hawaii
By Craig Gima
"It really was a choice about the next generation in Congress from Hawaii, what kind of people do they want to take over from the generation that has served us so well. And we're doing that transition. That transition is happening," Case said in an interview with the Star-Bulletin just hours after his victory over 43 other candidates in this weekend's special election to fill the two-year term of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.
"The old status-quo Democrat cannot prevail anymore in the larger political races, because that candidate cannot represent the mainstream of Hawaii today," Case said.
"There is absolutely no accident that the two biggest races in Hawaii this year, the governor's race and the 2nd Congressional race, were won by moderates -- anti-status-quo, change-oriented candidates. One was a Republican and one was a Democrat," Case said.
Case won with 33,002 votes, or about 43 percent of the 76,328 ballots cast Saturday. The ballots were counted and the result announced yesterday.
Turnout was just 22 percent of the 328,342 registered voters in the district, which encompasses Leeward, Windward and North Shore Oahu and the neighbor islands.
Democrat Matt Matsunaga, a former state senator and son of the late U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, was the second-highest vote-getter with about 30 percent, or 23,050 votes. Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa came in third with 6,046, or about 8 percent of the vote. Republicans Barbara Marumoto and Bob McDermott each had 5 to 6 percent of the vote.
Case is due in Washington, D.C., today and will be sworn in tomorrow with the other members of the 108th Congress.
He said among his first priorities in office will be securing more resources for education and working toward modifying the No Child Left Behind Act to allow for more flexibility in rural districts and schools with large immigrant populations. He also would like to see more federal resources devoted to the fight against crystal methamphetamine, or "ice," in the 2nd district -- perhaps a Weed and Seed program on the neighbor islands.
Working toward passage of the Akaka Bill to have federal recognition of native Hawaiians is another priority.
"That's going to be just a matter of educating a lot of people in Washington, and I particularly look forward to working with Gov. Lingle on that."
Case said Lingle, during the gubernatorial campaign, made a commitment to work toward its passage.
"I'm going to take her up on that offer," he said.
On the issue of tax cuts that may be proposed by the Bush administration, Case said he is keeping an open mind but sees balancing the budget as a higher priority.
"If the information is to my satisfaction that the tax cuts proposed will in fact regenerate our economy and maintain and enhance revenues and not substantially drive the federal budget into further deficit, I'm going to support it regardless of which party introduces it. I have no problem at all supporting initiatives that are put forward by Republicans."
Case said he hopes to select his staff by the end of the week and is hoping for an assignment on the Education, Transportation or Commerce committees.
He credits his victory to his grass-roots organization, familiarity with the district and his message of independence and experience.
"I think we did change politics in Hawaii," he said. "We did offer a statewide true grass-roots campaign that wasn't based or dependent on any single interest group or philosophical constituency, just all a bunch of ordinary citizens, mostly without any political experience, that just wanted a better Hawaii."
Case won a Nov. 30 special election to fill the five weeks remaining in Mink's term. Mink died Sept. 28, a week after winning the primary, and won the general election posthumously, which set up this weekend's special election.
Yesterday afternoon, Matsunaga walked down Kapiolani Boulevard from his headquarters to Case's headquarters to offer his congratulations.
"It's time to unite behind the victorious candidate," Matsunaga said. "Ed, you were just too strong for us."
In an interview earlier in the day, Matsunaga said he is not ruling out a run for office in the future but wants to spend time now with his family.
Case, a lawyer, was a legislative assistant to Spark Matsunaga in Congress. He served eight years in the state House before deciding to run for governor last year. In the Legislature, Case was known as a fiscal moderate and social liberal with an independent streak that sometimes left him apart from other members of the Democratic majority. He was often at odds with public worker unions over civil service reform measures that the unions saw as takeaways.
Case said yesterday he holds no animosity toward unions that worked against him in his failed Democratic primary campaign for governor and in the special election.
"I said to them -- which is about the most wrong thing to do politically -- I said to them, 'Whether you endorse me or not, I'm going to work with you, period. If you don't endorse me, there's no downside for you.' And I'm going to hold true to that."
Case said he believes he has the support of individual union members who went against the recommendation of their leadership, and he will work for their support.
"The public employee unions are an important constituency in Hawaii," Case said. "From my perspective the slate is wiped clean. We're just going to try to help Hawaii."
Case said his future political options, including a run for the U.S. Senate, remain wide open.
"I don't rule anything out. I'm going to do this job, and Spark Matsunaga taught me a long time ago, and I never forgot it, that the best way to get re-elected or to leave yourself open to other opportunities is to do the best possible job you can with the job you have, and that's what I'm going to do."
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2nd Congressional District special electionUnoffical results of Saturday's voting to fill the two-year term of the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.
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