HI-01: Will progressives split the vote and let the anti-progressive win?

Reprinted from DailyKos

The Hawai’i Congressional 1 race has several good candidates and a leading candidate who is so bad that progressives are saying they’ll vote the Republican candidate if she wins the primary.

Despite being a deep blue state, (or maybe because it is) Republican candidates often join the Hawai’i Democratic party.  You folks may talk about the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party” but here we talk about the “Republican wing of the Democratic Party” and we’re dead serious.

One of the most egregiously unprogressive candidates is Donna Mercado Kim who is leading the HI-01 race both in the polls and in the money.

The Civil Beat poll (margin of error 6%) showed “…it clearly looks like a race between state Sen. Kim and state Rep. Takai”.
Kim 30%
Takai 24%
Chang 9%

And Open Secrets shows that only three candidates are competitive:
Kim: Cash on Hand:$534,893, Total Raised: $582,775
Chang: Cash on Hand: $331,213, Total Raised: $557,748
Takai: Cash on Hand: $322,026, Total Raised: $453,919

Takai and Chang are both espousing progressive positions.  In the Hawaii Legislature, Takai has been a reliable vote in favor of the environment.  His lead in the polls and consistently good votes on environmental issues led the Sierra Club to endorse him and urge folks to consolidate around a single Not-Kim candidate.

If there is no consolidation Kim will win.

Kim not only has a checkered past when it comes to ethics but she’s being supported by the Pat Roberts Christian Coalition for her anti-abortion, anti-gay, and pro-school-prayer positions.  Kim recently voted no on marriage equality (which passed anyway).

She’s made it clear that she supports corporations over the environment by appointing a Monsanto lobbyist to the Water Commission nominating committee right after Monsanto was twice turned down by the Water Commission.

In contrast, the Sierra Club endorsee Mark Takai, has expressed progressive positions.  He’s always been excellent on renewable energy, supporting programs for low income people to install PV, credits for solar, and walking the walk by converting his own home to solar.

He voted in favor of Marriage Equality and received the Equality Hawaii endorsement.  (Equality Hawai’i is another progressive organization which is extremely worried that folks won’t rally around a single Not-Kim candidate)

Mark Takai is advocating for rebuilding our transportation and communication infrastrucucture.  He says, “At a time of unprecedented onslaughts and attacks against unions and working families across the country, I will continue to be a champion for organized labor and working families.”  On women’s issues he supports choice, equal pay and has worked hard on the military sexual assault issue.

Takai supports Brian Schatz and Elizabeth Warren in the “Strengthening Social Security Act” which will raise or eliminate the cap on FICA taxable income.  That cap means that the poor and the middle class pay 6.5% FICA tax on everything they earn but that someone making a million dollars per year pays less than 1% on their earnings.

Takai, a member of the Hawaii National Guard, was deployed to the Middle East and, as is often the case, this has reinforced his resolve to prevent us from engaging in unnecessary wars.  He opposed entering the Iraq war and continues to oppose more involvement in Iraq.

Takai’s military experience will help him in HI-01 where there are substantial military votes and will also position him to compete head to head with the Republican Charles Djou who is in the Army Reserves.  (We’re talking about the registered Republican – not Donna Kim who is the stealth Republican.)

Progressive Caucus members Mike Honda and Mark Takano have both endorsed Mark Takai.

The Civil Beat poll showed that Takai is within striking distance of Donna Kim and two progressive organizations are urging us to consolidate support around this progressive Not-Kim candidate.   Whatever we do, we cannot allow the Republican-registered-as-a-Democrat, Donna Kim win.  It will take all of us getting behind one of the progressive alternatives to beat her.


Oops! Donna Mercado Kim overlooked balancing Hawaii's state budget

Reprinted from DailyKos

“We made a mistake. Somebody didn’t double-check the numbers.” Sen. Donna Mercado Kim addresses a state budget shortfall that’s prompting Gov. Neil Abercrombie to veto up to $46 million in proposed DOE funding to balance it. [KHON]

And who was that “somebody”?  Cough, cough…it was you, Ms. Kim.State senate president Donna Mercado Kim aka “Ms. Ruthless Beauty Queen” for her overweening vanity and propensity for yelling at testifiers who displease her, has capped her rein over the most dysfunctional state senate ever, by flubbing her most important job – passing a balanced budget.

Ms Ruthless is running for the U.S. House where she’ll be right at home with her friends in the GOP.

Kim voted against marriage equality and is courting the rightwing social conservatives, where she’s being lauded by the Hawai’i Christian Coalition. This is part of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition and their mission is to pass laws against abortion, marriage equality and in favor of school prayer.

Kim also appointed a Monsanto lobbyist to the Water Commission nominating committee right after Monsanto was turned down on both Oahu and Maui for more water.  In Hawai’i water is a public trust and the Water Commission decides who gets it.  Droughts are increasing so there is much competition for water.

This Republican candidate for Congress….WAIT!…she’s a DEMOCRAT???

Yes folks, she IS a Democrat in this state that every politician (save a handful) have joined the Democratic party or else faced a life in limbo unable to get any chairmanship or power.

On the mainland you folks have the “corporate wing” of the Democratic Party and the “Elizabeth Warren wing“.  Here in Hawai’i we have those two wings and also the “Republican wing of the Democratic party“.

Now here’s the bad news.  The last Civil Beat poll showed Donna Mercado Kim ahead for the CD1 Congressional seat. Here’s the breakdown:

Donna Mercado Kim 30%
Mark Takai 24%
Stanley Chang 9%
Ikaika Anderson 7%
Will Espero 6%
Joey Manahan 1%Undecided 23%
Margin of error 6.1%

As often happens in Hawai’i, there are many good candidates in this race and one really, really bad candidate.  Thus the corporations pile on to the bad candidate and the many good candidates split the vote.Right now folks are deciding which candidate to get behind since the only way that Donna Kim can lose is if all the not-Donna Kim voters consolidate behind one.

It would be a real shame if a conservative like Kim were to win in a deep blue state like Hawai’i.

As the NotDonnaKim website says:

Friends don’t let friends vote for Donna Kim

Come to Hawai'i and blow up paradise!

Reprinted from DailyKos

Colleen Hanabusa: War games can unite countries

Swear to god, that was the headline in The Garden Isle (Kaua’i) newspaper today.

The arms dealers would like us to believe that war games serve some societally beneficial purpose – of what? Cosy fellowship and a lovefest between countries? They should better be looked at as a wonderful way to expend munitions and, hey, buy some more from the military corporations!

Hanabusa has gone whole hog in shilling for the munitions and drone suppliers.  As her campaign fizzles, she’s depending more and more on her military corporate sponsors to prop it up.

After all, as the wars we’ve started wind down, we have to figure out some way to use up munitions and justify the biggest military budget in the world.

 photo USvsWorldMilitarySpending_zpsfa4a9c75.png

Hanabusa is a member of the China Caucus, a conservative group dedicated to the wildly improbably notion that we must prepare for a military attack by China.  She is joined in this fear by such intellectional giants as Rep Joe (“you lie”) Wilson , Steve (“women can’t get pregnant from rape”) King, and Ken (“IRS is like the Cookie Monster“) Calvert

Perhaps this announcement is the way that Hanabusa celebrates the RIMPAC exercises which are being held right now.  Hanabusa has been advocating the U.S. military “Pivot to the Pacific” because she feels China is such a danger that we must mass armaments in Hawai’i to fend them off.  Curiously enough, China is participating in RIMPAC this year.

The RIMPAC exercise features a merry menu of activities:  Torpedoing and sinking ships, deafening sea life with sonar, deploying vast quantities of chaff in order to confuse and blind our weather radar and (four years ago) allegedly cutting our undersea communications cable, thus crippling our phone and Internet service for months.

Hanabusa and Republican Randy Forbes have been pushing for increased militarization of the already over-militarized Hawaiian islands.

In fact, just recently, she along with her Republican buddies appropriated more funds for the military than the military even wanted.

No wonder Hanabusa says we can’t pay for expanding Social Security!

Meanwhile, we invite everyone to come celebrate RIMPAC with us.  Come and join the merriment as we blow up paradise!

Bart Dame's Response to Hanabusa Talking Points

Reprinted from DailyKos

Bart Dame is (in my opinion and others) one of the most incisive and knowledgeable observers of the Hawai’i political scene.  In comments to a Civil Beat article showing that Senator Brian Schatz (D-progressive) is polling ahead of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-ConservaDem) he responds to most of the Hanabusa Campaign talking points.

First he refutes the idea that because Abercrombie appointed Brian Schatz on Sen Inouye’s passing, Schatz is somehow connected to Abercrombie:

“I suggest the assertion Schatz is “one of Abercrombie’s guys” is not useful for analyzing what is going on. It may be useful as a weapon for attacking Schatz by trying to taint him with the faults of Abercrombie. But it does not reflect the facts. Many of us hold politicians in contempt for “spinning” the truth, playing with facts to make themselves look better and cast blame on their opponents. I suggest we are no better than that if we resort to the same tactics in our “anti-establishment” zeal.Where does this claim about Schatz come from? OK, Schatz was Neil’s LG [Lt. Gov]. Sorry. That does not provide any support for your claim against Schatz. In Hawaii, the primary voters pick the LG, not the Governor. The people of Hawaii cast almost twice as many votes for Schatz as for Bobby Bunda, his nearest rival in a crowded field.

Abercrombie did not support Schatz over his primary opponents and Schatz was very careful to steer a middle path between Neil and his opponent, Mufi Hanneman.”

He goes on to explain Hawaii’s process for appointing an office-holder when a seat becomes vacant mid-term:

“Perhaps you think Schatz is “Abercrombie’s guy” because the Governor picked him to become the US Senator? The Democratic Party’s “board of directors,” the SCC, a group of about 80 people from across the state, had the responsibility for presenting 3 names to the Governor from which to make that selection. I was part of that process and we wrestled with the question of whose names to move forward. There was no uniform set of criteria for evaluating the names. But, in broad terms, these are the kind of considerations we weighed:First, the pool was limited by law to Democratic party members. Second, we gave weight to whether the nominees would be able to mount an effective campaign in 2014, when the appointed term comes to an end. Some people suggested a “placeholder” appointment of someone who would NOT run in 2014 and those arguments were also considered.

I do not know how conversant you might be with the pool of potential Democratic US Senators from Hawaii. It is not a large group of names. We did not necessarily limit ourselves to current officeholders, but that was a good place to start. Former elected officials were also considered, including ex-governors. Shinseki’s name was floated. At least one prominent businessman. We interviewed everyone who submitted their name or whose name was submitted by others, with their approval. Some were delusional “vanity” candidates, IMO.

In the end, we came up with Schatz, Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina. I would defend those choices. And each of them received the support of a majority of the SCC members, even though each had their own base of supporters who favored them as the first choice. There was a significant gap in support between the third and fourth place name. I am giving away no secrets in sharing this. It can be gleaned from news accounts from the time.

A strong case could be–and was–made for each of those three nominees. But it was up to the Governor to pick. I honestly could have supported whichever one he chose. Not because I support everything Abercrombie does–I clearly do not. But because each was qualified in different ways.”

Dame touches on the subject of whether the candidate had the campaign and donor base to hold on to the seat in the face of a Republican challenge.  Esther Kiaania, although a well-qualified candidate had run a lackluster campaign for the House just before then finishing out of the frontrunners of the primary, so the Governor may have excluded her for that reason.  (He had appointed her as deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, so he clearly thought highly of her.)Had the Governor appointed Colleen Hanabusa, it would have opened her House seat to a winner-take-all special election.  The last time that happened for that seat, it was captured by Republican Djou as the two Democratic candidates split the vote.  That would have been a disaster for both Hawai’i and the Democratic party.  When Djou was last in office, he voted against the jobs stimulus which provided $millions to employ Hawaii residents during the worst of the economic downturn.

So really his only reasonable and practical choice was Brian Schatz.

Dame goes to chastise a commentator for repeating the formerly right-wing attack on Sen Inouye as being some sort of royalty able to dictate what the Democratic party does. The Hanabusa campaign has picked up this talking point and uses it to justify her primary challenge to incumbent Brian Schatz:

“The strongest argument made against Abercrombie’s selection of Schatz–and when I say “strongest,” I mean the most politically effective argument, not the most logical– is the accusation he should have “honored” Senator Inouye’s dying request that Hanabusa be appointed. (I do not hear you making that argument).I think that argument is cheap and disingenuous. And, ironically enough, disrespectful to Senator Inouye, by suggesting he be treated as a dying king wanting to name his own heir. The insinuation Inouye saw himself as the top political boss, even as an “Emperor” of Hawaii politics was a recurring accusation coming from the political right which Democrats had fought against for years.

Yet here, just as Senator has died, this is how his closest operatives are insisting we should view Inouye? Forgive my French, but WTF? I had rejected that charge from the Right and was not willing to fall for it from people trying to retain control of the power which was now slipping from their grasp.

Senator Inouye DID want Hanabusa appointed. In his view, she was the one most likely to hold together the team of people he had assembled over the years, the so-called “Team Inouye,” a group of staffers, close allies, lobbyists, defense contractors, campaign contributors and political insiders who wanted to continue both his policies and the stream of “pork” he had proudly brought back to the state and had distributed with them largely determining where it went and who got it.

But Inouye was only offering HIS advice, not issuing a decree, not assuming his “dying wish” must be obeyed by the Governor. The way top banker Walter Dods and HECO chair Jeff Watanabe played up the letter to Abercrombie, with top Inouye staffers standing barely concealed in the shadows, was disrespectful to both democracy and the Senator, in my view. (I say that knowing it will anger people I would rather NOT have angry at me).”

Dame then takes on Hanabusa’s talking point claiming she’s more experienced.

“At the time, Senator Hanabusa was clearly the more experienced legislator than Schatz. I said at the time, she would probably be better equipped to “hit the ground running.” But, contrary to your impression, Schatz is no “empty suit.”If you are unaware of his qualifications and achievements, let me suggest that reflects more on your lack of familiarity with Hawaii politics, the legislative process and the world of non-profits. It is not your fault you are unfamiliar with these things. But I think you make a mistake when you rely upon your lack of knowledge to make bold statements.

The argument that Schatz is young enough to acquire significant seniority for the benefit of Hawaii may be distasteful to you. But it arises from the nature of power in the Senate and is not something invented by Brian Schatz or Neil Abercrombie.

It is ironic that Hanabusa’s campaign, which brags about her political “Real Politic”–her ability to operate in the “real world” of hard-nosed politics, should now feign indignation that “seniority” should be considered a legitimate criterion in an election.

Both Senators Inouye and Akaka remained in office, unable to retire, because they had acquired so much seniority that their loss of seniority would hurt the people of Hawaii. The decision to convince Akaka to retire was made, perhaps too late, with the hope Senator Inouye would remain in office long enough as Akaka’s replacement slowly climb the seniority ladder.

All politically astute Democrats knew this, most definitely including Team Inouye’s top operatives. So it is disingenuous for them to now act as if it is “unworthy” for Schatz supporters to point to his youth and potential seniority as one argument in his favor. “Why do you dislike older people?” (I write this as someone only two years younger than congresswoman Hanabusa).”

Hanabusa Brags about voting with the Tea Party

Reprinted from DailyKos

Latest polls show that Rep Colleen Hanabusa’s ego-driven primary challenge to progressive Sen Brain Schatz is faltering as Sen Schatz opens up a 15 point lead.

Hanabusa’s solution?  To brag about what a “great legislator” she is because she – wait for it – voted with the Tea Party against the budget bill.

The last budget bill was a stinker, that’s true.  But it prevented yet more Sequester cuts going into effect to programs that are important for working families.  The deal was needed to avoid catastrophe, and most observers think the compromise was the best deal that could be expected when Republicans control the house.

Senator Patty Murray is credited by objective commentators for skillful negotiations. Those who supported Senator Murray’s budget deal include:

  • President Obama
  • Senators Mazie Hirono
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Brian Schatz
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Representative
  • Tammy Duckworth
  • Tulsi Gabbard
  • Alan Grayson
  • Mike Honda
  • John Lewis
  • Doris Matsui

Those who opposed Murray’s budget deal include:

  • Senators Ted Cruz
  • Rand Paul
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Representatives Michele Bachmann
  • Louie Gohmert
  • Trey Gowdy
  • most Tea Party groups and the Koch brothers
  • Rep Colleen Hanabusa (DINO-HI)

Hanabusa has chosen to ally herself with the latter group – and to base her campaign on a single vote in which she was opposed by every other member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation and the President of the United StatesWay to go, Colleen!

The primary is still months away and Sen Brian Schatz can use our help.  His TV ads are working but it takes money to keep them on the air. See his assault weapon ban ad and his strengthening Social Security ad. Donate here.