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Case apology to Inouye clears path for U.S. Senate run

By Richard Borreca


As former U.S. Rep. Ed Case inches toward his second run for the U.S. Senate, he made an interesting move.

In an interview with the Star-Advertiser's Derrick DePledge, Case said last month he met with Hawaii senior Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and apologized.

It is fascinating when one politician apologizes to another pol.

"I apologized," Case said of his conversation with Inouye. "I told him that I regretted very much the circumstances under which he has opposed me. And I apologized for any offense caused there.

"And he accepted both and we had a very good discussion. It was open, relaxed, cordial — exactly what needed to happen."

Case stunned both Washington and Hawaii's political class when in 2006 he ran against U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. The move violated the Hawaii unwritten rule that congressional incumbents are always re-elected and you don't leave a safe seat for a risky, underfunded Democratic primary race.

While that is true, what precisely was it that needed a Case apology?

Case didn't say he was apologizing for running.

Perhaps it was for upsetting Inouye?

Case himself acknowledges that Inouye is still Hawaii's major source of political clout, but cautions that it is misleading to say Inouye "controls things."

"He didn't want Linda Lingle to be governor — she was for two terms. And in this last election, I don't think there's any question that he supported Mayor Hannemann over Neil Abercrombie. Neil Abercrombie stunningly defeated Mufi Hannemann. He did not support Peter Carlisle for mayor; his candidate did not succeed," Case said in a March interview with Malia Zimmerman, editor of Hawaii Reporter.

Last year, Case was locked up with Inouye in another chapter of a feud not seen since Vice President Aaron Burr shot former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in the famous 1804 duel.

Inouye charged, as he endorsed Colleen Hanabusa for the U.S. House, that Case had misled the Hawaii congressional delegation about his intentions to run against Akaka in 2006.

"I don't mind people changing their mind … but to come out and say ‘no' when all the time you are intended to do otherwise; that's not my kind of guy," said Inouye.

Case explained that during a 2005 meeting, Inouye asked whether Case would rule out a run for the Senate in 2006.

"I replied that while I hadn't decided to do so, I wouldn't rule it out," Case in an email to supporters last year.

Later Case withdrew from the primary race, giving Hanabusa a clear shot to take on and beat Republican Charles Djou. That prompted Inouye to call Case "a real Democrat."

Now Case is readying himself for a second run at the Senate now that Akaka says he will retire.

The question to be answered is not whether Case is a "real Democrat" — but whether or not he is, as Inouye says, "my kind of guy."


Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at

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