Former congressman Ed Case on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, his opponent in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, complaining about the language in a Hirono campaign email to supporters.
In the email, an invitation for supporters to attend the opening of Hirono’s campaign headquarters on Saturday, the Hirono campaign quotes a testimonial from a supporter who said: “Mazie is the only candidate in this race that has overcome real challenges, the only candidate who knows how important a strong ohana is for success.”
Case likened the email to former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s widely criticized “Compare and Decide” mailer during the Democratic primary for governor in 2010 that contrasted Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie based on where they were born and where they went to school.
Today your campaign sent out an email saying that you are “the only candidate in this race that has overcome real challenges, the only candidate who knows how important a strong ohana is for success.”
Do you think that? Do you embrace that?
Yes, you overcame challenges in your upbringing and I admire you for that. Are you saying that’s what qualifies you to be a Senator?
I was fortunate in my Hilo upbringing. A good family, solid education, opportunity that I’ve tried not to waste, obligation to give back that I’ve tried to fulfill. I want that for all of us. Are you saying that disqualifies me as a Senator?
Are you saying I haven’t faced “real challenges”? Like the challenges of raising our children, of providing for my family in this economy, of running businesses and creating jobs? (Challenges you haven’t faced.) Are you really saying you’re the “only candidate” to overcome “real challenges” or that your challenges are “real” and mine or anyone else’s aren’t?
Your ohana comment is just plain offensive. Are you saying your ohana is somehow better than mine, or that you appreciate them more than I do mine? Are you really saying you’re the “only candidate who knows how important a strong ohana is for success”, or that this is what qualifies you to be a Senator?
You are wrong. It’s wrong not just for me but for every other candidate, including Linda Lingle, who I don’t doubt has also faced real challenges and values her own ohana.
Folks recognized Compare and Decide from the ‘10 Governor campaign as an attempt to fan the fires of division and prejudice to divert voters from what really counted. Are you trying to do the same?
Sure, where we came from and who we are is one part of the decision facing voters. But it looks like that’s all your candidacy is about, and for me that’s just the starting point.
What about the specific challenges facing our country, the specific issues, our records, beliefs, agendas and allegiances, which of us can deliver strong effective leadership for our country? You have steadfastly refused to say, and refused any and all debates and joint appearances where voters can actually consider all of this.
Stop hiding behind your handlers. Come out and engage in a public campaign that shows you deserve consideration as Hawaii’s next Senator. Come out and talk with me publicly about which of us can get the job done, how we would do it, and how our upbringings and ohana fit in.
I ask you to publicly acknowledge personally that your email was wrong and should not have been sent.
Betsy Lin, Hirono’s campaign manager, said Case misinterpreted the words of Hirono’s supporter.
It’s unfortunate that Mr. Case misinterpreted the kind words one of our supporters expressed about Mazie’s inspirational personal story. The same spirit of optimism and ohana we’re certain Ed Case brought to raising his upstanding family should be the same spirit that infuses this election.