Archive for March, 2012

Moving

March 20th, 2012
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Native Hawaiians erupted into applause on Tuesday afternoon after a $200 million settlement between the state and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over revenue from former crown lands cleared the state House Judiciary Committee unamended.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and OHA chairwoman Colette Machado have been personally appearing at the hearings on the settlement bill, appealing to lawmakers to pass the legislation unamended, so it does not have to be subject to an uncertain House-Senate conference committee.

The settlement would transfer state-controlled land in Kakaako for Hawaiians to develop. The settlement bill now goes to the House Finance Committee, the final committee hurdle.

A separate bill would give OHA greater flexibility to develop high-rise apartments on two Kakaako parcels. Several senators support the bill to enhance the potential value of land in the region.

Abercrombie told House lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not tied the bill to the settlement. “I don’t want to complicate your job,” the governor said.

Several community activists who oppose residential development near the Kakaako waterfront urged lawmakers to drop the bill, arguing that it complicates passage of the settlement.

Rep. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (D, Kahului-Paia), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, deferred action on the bill until Thursday. He said afterward that the bill might not advance.

“There is a lot of opposition, so I lean towards deferring it,” he said.

Electioneering communications

March 19th, 2012
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $249,800 for production and media placement for television advertisements in Hawaii in February highlighting former Gov. Linda Lingle’s stance on tourism.

Lingle is the leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former congressman Ed Case are the Democratic contenders.

The ads were classified by the U.S. Chamber as electioneering communications — which mention a clearly identified federal candidate — and not as an independent exependiture — which expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate — according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. The filing also states that the federal candidate involved was President Barack Obama. The ad mentions that Lingle supports Obama’s plan to boost tourism.

Sources initially estimated that the chamber’s ad buy in Hawaii was worth $100,000, but that only roughly covered the network affiliates, not cable television.

Final count

March 17th, 2012
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The Hawaii Republican Party on Friday released the final count for the party’s first-ever presidential caucuses held on Tuesday night.

Here is the split:

Mitt Romney: 4,548 (44%)
Rick Santorum: 2,589 (25%)
Ron Paul: 1,975 (19%)
Newt Gingrich: 1,116 (11%)
Turnout: 10,228

Romney won on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Paul won on the Big Island. Romney also won in both of the state’s congressional districts.

The breakdown for urban Honolulu’s 1st Congressional District:

Romney: 1,742
Santorum: 1,160
Paul: 631
Gingrich: 474
Turnout: 4,007

For the 2nd Congressional District in rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands:

Romney: 2,806
Santorum: 1,429
Paul: 1,344
Gingrich: 642
Turnout: 6,221

Romney picked up nine delegates, Santorum secured five delegates, and Paul took three delegates.

Southern Hawaii

March 15th, 2012
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Melinda Henneberger, in the Washington Post’s She the People blog, has some fun with presidential candidates who fall into local dialects, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney dropping a “y’all” while campaigning for the Mississippi primary.

Romney, who greeted Hawaii Republicans with an “aloha” in a conference call before the Hawaii caucuses, is like many politicians who do their best to blend on the campaign trail.

From Henneberger:

With Louisiana yet to vote, on March 24th, and thus more wonder at the diverse region’s quaint and colorful folk ways yet to be expressed, I’m here to tell you how the hog eats the cabbage: The idea that Southerners have any wish to hear politicians from other parts of the country talk like them is silly.

Still, lots of pols who go South do try to go native, with varying degrees of success. Barack Obama, who as everyone knows was born in southern Hawaii, can drop his g’s without any fear of embarrassing himself.

Whereas Hillary Clinton, after all those years as a Yankee in Bubba’s Little Rock, wisely made no further forays into her husband’s patois after that disastrous day in Selma in March of ’07 when she sounded like Scarlett’s Mammy quoting Rev. James Cleveland’s hymm, “I don’t feel noways tired.”

There may be something in the sweet tea, because Rick Santorum’s accent during his victory speech on Tuesday night was a little more deep fried than usual.

And Obama, if you recall, talked about his love of biscuits and grits on the stump in ’08 – oh, but that was in Evansville, Indiana, where they’re not on the menu, so that wasn’t so much pandering as just confused.

In any case, I move that we give all office seekers a pass in this regard, because many of us who aren’t running for anything do the same thing. (See: Imitation = flattery.)

Challenges

March 14th, 2012
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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.

From Case:

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.

`Game changer’

March 14th, 2012
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David Chang, the Hawaii Republican Party chairman, gave himself some leeway when he predicted that the state’s first GOP presidential caucuses Tuesday night would draw 5,000 to 10,000 voters.

Caucus organizers thought 6,000 was possible, but they really had no way of knowing how many voters would show up. Just before midnight at state GOP headquarters, a cheer erupted in the counting room when it became clear that turnout would break 10,000.

“It shows that the Republican Party is alive and well. And this is a game changer,” Chang said. “We’re going to take this momentum into the general election.”

North star

March 14th, 2012
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign had high hopes for Romney on the North Shore of Oahu, where his son, Matt, appeared at a rally this week ahead of the Hawaii Republican caucuses.

Romney, a Mormon, was expected to perform exceptionally well on the North Shore, home to Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the Laie Temple. Early returns on Tuesday suggested the caucus might be a close clash between Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, but then the North Shore districts made the result a decisive one for Romney.

Here is the breakdown for state House Districts 46 and 47, according to the state GOP:

Mitt Romney: 1,027

Ron Paul: 44

Rick Santorum: 28

Newt Gingrich: 9

Write in: 2

Total: 1,110

Solar arrays

March 12th, 2012
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One of our readers caught former Gov. Linda Lingle’s cameo in “Game Change,” HBO’s dramatization of the John Heilemann and Mark Halperin book on the 2008 presidential campaign.

The movie portrays Rick Davis, an adviser to U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, doing a Google and YouTube search of Republican women after the campaign determines that a woman would help the GOP ticket. After a Google search for Meg Whitman, the eBay executive, Davis views a YouTube clip of Lingle discussing alternative energy — solar arrays — at a keynote speech to the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

The search ends with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s eventual choice.

`Plan’

March 9th, 2012
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U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is up with a television advertisement in Hawaii ahead of the state’s GOP presidential caucuses on Tuesday.

The 30-second spot called “Plan” portrays the Texas congressman as a fiscal conservative with the will to make significant budget cuts to reduce the federal deficit.

From Jesse Benton, Paul’s national campaign chairman:

Ron Paul’s ad ‘Plan’ is an ideal one to air in Hawaii, with its pleasant climate, because it helps separate him from the ‘fair-weather conservatives’ who are unwilling to make the tough decisions that will get our country back on track.

Ron Paul is the only authentic conservative in the race and as demonstrated by his taking the long view toward the Hawaii caucus and other contests, he is the only candidate besides Mitt Romney with the resources and stamina to run an exhaustive 50-state campaign.

Lean Democrat

March 9th, 2012
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Stuart Rothenberg, the political analyst behind The Rothenberg Political Report, explained in a column in Roll Call this week why he has not joined others in rating the Hawaii U.S. Senate race a tossup.

He believes former Gov. Linda Lingle, the leading Republican, has political skills but too high a hurdle to climb in a traditionally Democratic state with Hawaii-born President Barack Obama also on the ballot for re-election.

From Rothenberg:

My skepticism about Lingle, 58, has nothing to do with her candidate skills or political appeal.

Any Republican who can win two terms as governor in Hawaii obviously has political savvy and knows how to connect with voters. When she was re-elected in 2006, an absolutely horrible year for Republicans, Lingle drew more than 62 percent of the vote.

Nor is money a major issue. Lingle, who served eight years as mayor of Maui before she narrowly lost a gubernatorial bid in 1998, showed more than $1.4 million in the bank at the end of December, about $350,000 more than her likely general election opponent, Rep. Mazie Hirono (D), and far more than Hirono’s chief adversary for the Democratic nomination, ex-Rep. Ed Case.

Lingle’s problem is that no Republican has won a Hawaii Senate race in more than 40 years, and the last Republican to win a statewide federal election was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The odds against any Republican running statewide are enormous, and President Barack Obama’s presence on the ticket doesn’t help her prospects. He won 72 percent of the vote last time, and while his numbers might slide, Lingle will need to get the votes of at least 100,000 Hawaiians who vote for Obama for president. That’s not impossible, but it places a heavy burden on her.

Lingle was able to win statewide in spite of her party. Now, she’ll be running in a federal race in a presidential year, when partisanship runs high. And like Mike Sullivan and Kathy Karpan, popular statewide Democratic officials in Wyoming in the 1990s, Inez Tenenbaum, a popular Democratic statewide official in South Carolina more than a dozen years ago, and Bill Weld, a one-time successful Massachusetts Republican governor, Lingle is likely to find the jump from a state race to a federal contest quite challenging.

So, while Lingle is a serious candidate and her candidacy certainly deserves watching, she faces a very difficult task. And that’s why the Rothenberg Political Report rates the Hawaii Senate race as Lean Democrat. (Roll Call also rates the contest as Leans Democratic.)