Archive for November, 2011


November 30th, 2011

Democrats are turning to women in their bid to keep control of the U.S. Senate, according to a report by National Journal.

The story names U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, as one of the women candidates who could help determine the balance of power in the chamber next year. Hirono is up against former congressman Ed Case in the primary to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Former Gov. Linda Lingle is the leading Republican candidate.

From the National Journal:

If you want a sign of the gender gap in American politics, look no further than both parties’ Senate recruitment efforts.

Democrats have accomplished the rare feat of convincing more women than men to run in leading Senate races next year. Include the six women up for reelection, and it’s the largest crop running for the Senate—ever.

Of the eight open or Republican-held seats Democrats are aggressively contesting, there’s a good chance that a woman will end up as the standard-bearer in at least half. Democrats’ path to holding the Senate winds through Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Rep. Shelley Berkley in Nevada, and, potentially, Rep. Mazie Hirono in Hawaii. Party officials also are hoping former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp can pull off an upset in Republican-friendly North Dakota.

Republicans have landed prominent women candidates too, with former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson best positioned for victory next year. But their A-list roster isn’t nearly as deep as the Democrats’.


November 29th, 2011

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has scheduled a fundraiser Wednesday night for his 2014 re-election campaign. The $2,000-per-person event is at the Hokua condominiums in Honolulu.

The governor held his first re-election fundraiser in August at Hilton Hawaiian Village.


November 29th, 2011

Former Gov. Linda Lingle has urged the federal government to postpone making the main Hawaiian Islands critical habitat for the Hawaiian monk seal until the economic and social consequences are studied.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed expanding critical habitat to protect the endangered monk seal.

From Lingle:

A recent proposal by the Federal Government to make 4,787 square miles of land and water in Hawaii a federal critical habitat is another example of government over-reach and insensitivity to the concerns of the people of this State.

I am calling upon the federal Department of the Interior to postpone this action until such time as the economic and social consequences to the people of Hawaii are fully understood and addressed.

While I support efforts to protect and preserve endangered species, such as the Hawaiian Monk Seal, these efforts should be carried out with a sensitivity to the people and activities they impact. And they should be based on extensive public input and solid economic and scientific data.


November 28th, 2011

Asian-Americans are getting more involved in politics, USA Today reports, with a record number running for Congress next year.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who is running for U.S. Senate, and McKinley High School and University of Hawaii graduate Tammy Duckworth, who is running for U.S. House, are mentioned in the story.

Republican Ranjit “Ricky” Gill has already outraised Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney in California’s newly configured 9th District. In Illinois, two Democrats — Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth — are vying in the new 8th District. And two current Asian-American officeholders — U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and state Rep. William Tong of Connecticut, both Democrats — are running for U.S. Senate seats.

In all, at least 19 Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) candidates have declared their bids for Congress so far in the 2012 election cycle, up from eight candidates in 2010.

“You can’t call us invisible anymore,” said Gloria Chan, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), which compiled the data. “This spike in AAPI congressional challengers marks a definite political tipping point for our community.


November 23rd, 2011

The Hotline, in its first installment of monthly rankings for the most competitive U.S. Senate races next year, puts Hawaii at No. 11.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are the Democrats out to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is not seeking another term. Former Gov. Linda Lingle is the leading Republican contender.

From Hotline:

HAWAII (Open, Sen. Daniel Akaka retiring)
Former Gov. Linda Lingle is probably the one Republican in the country who embraces the RINO label. She needs to be seen as an independent in President Obama’s home state. Lingle will benefit from what’s likely to be a major schism in the Democratic field, as Rep. Mazie Hirono and ex-Rep. Ed Case battle it out in a late primary. But she may need as many as 20 points of split-ticket voting to overcome Obama’s huge support; Republicans haven’t elected a senator in the Aloha State since Hiram Fong won reelection in 1970.


November 22nd, 2011

State House and Senate leaders are still discussing whether to roll out a joint legislative package next session. Majority Democrats have often found it difficult to deliver on joint packages, since ideas evolve, and then are asked to justify why bills that were broadly endorsed fail at the end of session.

Democrats are trying to coordinate themes with Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who will likely concentrate on job creation, economic development and retooling government.

One word being used to describe expectations at the state Capitol for session during an election year? “Workmanlike.”


November 21st, 2011

State House Democrats, meeting in private caucus, have chosen state Rep. Pono Chong as their new majority leader.

Chong (D, Maunawili-Kaneohe), was the majority whip. He replaces state Rep. Blake Oshiro (D, Halawa-Aiea), Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s new deputy chief of staff.

Chong, first elected in 2004, has been part of House Speaker Calvin Say’s leadership faction.

“Pono Chong is my choice to replace Blake as majority leader,” Say said in a statement.  “Pono has worked very hard for the people of Hawaii and the House of Representatives, especially during the budget crisis of the past three years.  As majority whip during those years, he was a major contributor in resolving the crisis through a balanced approach of budget cuts and revenue enhancement.  Blake has recommended Pono has majority leader.  I am confident that Pono will continue the standard set by Blake.”

Lean Democrat

November 18th, 2011

The Rothenberg Political Report, which analyzes political campaigns nationally, moved the Hawaii U.S. Senate race from “safe Democrat” to “lean Democrat” after former Gov. Linda Lingle entered the campaign in October.

Unlike other political analysts, Rothenberg does not consider the Hawaii race a tossup, but believes it will be competitive enough to force the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to spend money in a state where Democrats traditionally rule. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are the Democratic contenders against the Republican Lingle.

From Rothenberg:

The Senate has been “in play” for months, but Republicans continue to expand the playing field by adding unexpected candidates in states from Hawaii and Michigan to Connecticut – all states where the GOP shouldn’t even be in the ballgame.

Even if the races in those states don’t go down to the wire, national Democratic strategists won’t be able to ignore them entirely, possibly forcing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to spend scarce resources in states it once expected to take for granted. Democrats are now defending four of the six most vulnerable Senate seats – and eight of the most vulnerable ten.


November 18th, 2011

State House Democrats are scheduled to meet in private caucus on Monday, where they could choose a new majority leader to replace Rep. Blake Oshiro, (D, Halawa-Aiea), the governor’s new deputy chief of staff.

Sources say state Rep. Pono Chong (D, Maunawili-Kaneohe), the majority whip, is among those under consideration. “I know I’m one of the options out there,” he said Friday.

Office space

November 17th, 2011

The state Department of Public Safety and the state Department of Human Services may have to vacate a Kakaako office building within five years because the building is part of a proposed settlement between the state and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over ceded lands.

State building planners were already looking to move the departments because the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which controls the building, was going to charge the state rent for the office space.

At an informational briefing Thursday before the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, state building planners told senators that the tentative move would be to house the departments and others at the old Liliha Civic Center space downtown.

State building planners at the Department of Accounting and General Services plan to ask lawmakers next session for $1 million for planning for the project.

DAGS will also ask for $17 million to go with the $13 million it has already received to renovate the Kamamalu building near the state Capitol, which has been vacant for more than a decade, an embarrassment for the state.

Longer term, state building planners also want to demolish aging Kinau Hale adjacent to the Capitol and construct a new building, a pedestrian mall and underground parking. The mall, set mauka from the Capitol, could also be used for statues and memorials.

Senators expressed frustration over the lack of a complete inventory of state office space and lease arrangements.

State Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Halawa) faulted state building planners for asking for the $1 million for planning for a range of activities when the money will likely be used mostly for the Liliha Civic Center project.

State Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City), the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said it was “appalling” that the state is spending $13.6 million annually to lease more than 511,000 square feet of private commercial office space. Two-thirds of the money comes from the federal government, but one third is out of the general fund.

DAGS hopes to consolidate state office space at the Liliha Civic Center project, the Kamamalu building and, eventually, at a renovated Kinau Hale to reduce the need to lease private space.