Tuesday, November 24, 2015         


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Hawaii Democrats hope this isn't the year of 'change'

By Richard Borreca


It is a funny thing about this "hope and change" thing. Sometimes to voters it looks like the same old thing.

This year both the Republicans and Democrats are selling "hope and change," but after a half century of Democrats being in charge of most things in Hawaii, it is a little more difficult for Democrats to run as anything but the establishment.

Today the poll numbers for both big races, governor and 1st Congressional District, are upside down.

Hawaii is a blue state; Democrats are expected to win and usually do. So all the prognostication after the September primary had two strong and vocal liberal Democrats -- Neil Abercrombie, the 72-year-old former 20-year congressman, and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, 59 -- winning easily.

It was supposed to be that Abercrombie faced his biggest challenge against former Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the primary, and Hanabusa against two-time former opponent Ed Case also in the primary.

As it turned out, Case left the primary to give Hanabusa a clear shot at the general election, and Abercrombie is up to his neck in the fight of his political life against GOP Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona.

Both Democrats are now polling even with their GOP opponents and nobody has a poll showing them with 50 percent.

Hawaii may be 2,500 miles away from the mainland, but it is obvious that the strong GOP tide rushing across the mainland also washed ashore here in Hawaii.

Much of this is brought on by political money for ads. The Republicans in both U.S. House and Senate races are raising more and outspending Democrats, according to the Washington-based website Politico.com.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate contributions to political action committees came just as Karl Rove, the former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, started an independent conservative political action committee. So far he has raised $56 million and is running ads in Hawaii, among other places.

The Washington Post yesterday offered up a prediction that it is possible that the GOP will take over both the House and Senate next month. The same predictions were echoed in Politico.

Of course, a change of parties in the Senate means that U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye would be bounced from his lofty Appropriations Committee chairmanship.

The reason for the shift in Hawaii is part of that change thing.

The health care act is not an issue in Hawaii, the federal stimulus funds have been very good to Hawaii, Hawaii Democratic patriarch Inouye brags about shoveling federal bucks into the state and celebrates the good of earmarks, plus more than 60 percent of our voters approve of local son President Barack Obama.

But still, nearly half of the voters are leery of promoting Abercrombie and Hanabusa.

As for "hope and change," Abercrombie and Hanabusa today are hoping that in blue state Hawaii things don't change.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. Reach him at rborreca@staradvertiser.com

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