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Inouye seat entails tough calculations


POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:49 a.m. HST, Dec 23, 2012



The death last week of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye was a seismic event in the political history of the state. As in an actual tectonic shift, Hawaii’s foundational strength will be put to the test.

Inouye’s name was frequently invoked by other lawmakers, even other members of the congressional delegation, as the state’s chief political resource. Newly elected U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono campaigned against her Republican rival, former Gov. Linda Lingle, pointing out the value of her partisan alliance with Inouye as being part of a “one-two punch.”

Now that the senior senator is gone, it all falls on Hirono, on two recent arrivals to the House of Representatives and on whomever Gov. Neil Abercrombie appoints to replace Inouye, to deliver what goods they can for Hawaii.

About that seniority issue: Tongues have been wagging about various schemes for minimizing the damage to Hawaii’s standing in the U.S. Capitol. According to one scenario, whether or not Abercrombie ultimately goes with Inouye’s pick and appoints U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, he could name the successor early and get her sworn in ahead of the other freshman senators coming to Capitol Hill. The apparent message here: Every little bit of seniority counts.

In the final analysis, though, such a maneuver reeks of gimmickry and probably wouldn’t make enough difference to be worthwhile, anyway. There simply is no getting away from the fact raised six years ago by former Congressman Ed Case who left his House seat to challenge U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. Hawaii stood then on the brink of losing its seniority edge, Case said, and the only preventive solution would be to start early to rebuild it.

Whether or not one found Case’s challenge of Akaka unseemly, the point is we have arrived at the juncture he predicted. With Akaka’s imminent retirement, Hawaii goes from many years of seniority in the upper chamber to absolutely none. And with seniority key in winning chairmanships and even placement on important committees, that certainly leaves the 50th State in the backfield.

In the House, where there is more churn, Hawaii’s relative junior standing is less consequential, but it matters there, too. If Hanabusa does make the big leap to Senate after only two years in Congress, it will leave the House delegates as green as they come, too.

This means that all four delegates will be on the hot seat, taking a final exam in a course they’ve barely begun. During her re-election campaign, Hanabusa said she leaned on her skill at networking, honed during her years at the state Legislature and finally as state Senate president, to begin forging relationships and making deals to benefit her electorate. She probably never expected that she would need so soon to accelerate her use of those skills but, in whichever chamber she ends up, she will need to do just that. And this is where the rubber meets the road for freshman Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard and Hirono as well.

Less than a week after Inouye’s passing, the eulogizing and final strains of “Aloha Oe” are starting to fade, and the sound beginning to overtake them is the whispers of strategizers and the whirring of political wheels spinning. If Hawaii ends up with a vacancy in the U.S. House that needs filling through a special election, how will that play out? Will Republicans put up Charles Djou again, and hope for a replay of 2009, when he slipped past two Democratic contenders for a U.S. House seat to win a special election for the same U.S. House seat? Can the Democrats manage to put forward only one champion of their own, so the vote doesn’t get split again?

Or will Abercrombie try to avoid that whole scenario and appoint someone other than Hanabusa?

There certainly are willing candidates throwing hats into the ring.

The current realignment of political leadership is exceedingly important to the interests of everyone in the state, including myriad programs that now no longer can expect such a clear path to funding.

Policymakers will have to make budgetary plans with that reality clearly in mind.

However, it doesn’t diminish the critical nature of this change to make this observation: The political drama that lies immediately ahead will be fascinating to watch.






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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Just dig up John A. Burns from the grave and name him Senator.
on December 23,2012 | 04:25AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
For that matter, here are some names: Hannemann, Lingle (omg), Ariyoshi, Shatz (we all know who he is), HanabUSA, the list goes on. Even u urself, Neil Abercrombie, could take the job lol.
on December 23,2012 | 04:27AM
Changalang wrote:
A gubernatorial Hanabusa appointment would mean appointing Djou to CD1 via special election and a split-Democratic vote. It is time Hawaii Democratic Leadership leave the politics of spite behind and play it smart to secure a proper rebuild. Only Democratic mistakes get Republicans elected to National office from Hawaii.
on December 23,2012 | 06:45AM
OldDiver wrote:
After reading yesterday's comments Changalang makes a compelling and logical argument for Schatz.
on December 23,2012 | 08:05AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope... we should get a great person to represent Hawaii. Have more faith in the electorate....
on December 23,2012 | 08:31AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
The electorate got a plurality Republican the last time and then booted him the first opportunity we got. The Democratic Party has hopefully learned from that mistake.
on December 23,2012 | 08:44AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope the Democrats should have had a better consensus on who should best serve. They knew that there would be a split in votes. They needed to give both candidates a chance to appeal to get more votes.
on December 23,2012 | 11:33AM
wiliki wrote:
In the case that there isn't the time to do that, then I think that we should have a more consensus type of voting where 2nd and their choices are also counted. People can plunk their votes and still not change the order of results but I think that those that do not plunk will affect the outcome.
on December 23,2012 | 11:37AM
Changalang wrote:
No one will be able to keep Ed, Mufi, Esther, and Espero from being on the ballot in the Special Election for CD1. Dan's not here anymore. The Hawaii GOP is already high fiving Djou. Do the math. A four way Dem race with one Republican equals history repeating itself with a Djou victory. Colleen deserves the nod, but the office she just won is her responsibility. She needs to be a good soldier and block and hold CD1 until a one-on-one General election can occur in 2014. It is not fair, but is indeed the best way FORWARD.
on December 23,2012 | 11:45AM
Jsato wrote:
I think Tulsi Gabbard could take the Senate by storm...she already has a huge national profile from what I've seen in the news. Inouye's military experience in the Senate was invaluable and she'd also bring that background into play.
on December 23,2012 | 10:31AM
Riverwalk wrote:
I agree. I also think Tulsi Gabbard has the political strength to fend off Lingle's big bucks in a general.
on December 23,2012 | 12:00PM
Changalang wrote:
Lingle got double digit creamed by the likes of Mazie; she is not a threat to any "single" Democrat because as her campaign commercial said, "We know her." LOL.
on December 23,2012 | 12:20PM
allie wrote:
true,,,lingle is just dreadful
on December 23,2012 | 12:22PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Tulsi, like her father is really a republican pretending to be a democrat so she can get elected. She changed just about every political position she previously held while in the state legislature because she knew it was required to get elected in Hawaii. She just adopted the positions that the polls told her would play well with the voters. Almost all her positions on social issues have "evolved" as she calls it in the last 2 years. She's managed to con you all into supporting her with a pretty face and well honed speaking skills but she's not the person most people think she is. Her personal beliefs on social issues have not changed from what they were when she entered politics,
on December 23,2012 | 06:01PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Thanks for enlightening the Forum. Just a thought... why should we believe you versus Ms. Gabbard? People change, as do their views.
on December 23,2012 | 06:48PM
Imagen wrote:
NOPE: Gabbard is "republican" spelled backwards.
on December 26,2012 | 10:00AM
Changalang wrote:
With consecutive terms in the House as a freshman Representative, Tulsi will be primed to take back Akaka's seat from Mazie. His old staffers will be stoked to get their old offices back. Agree that Tulsi is a great long term investment for Hawaii. The seniority impact of replacing a junior Senator like Mazie with a limited lifespan is worth it. The senior Hawaii Senator just needs the junior's loyal second vote. Abandoning CD2 with only a half term City Council stint under ones' belt may be a narrative that even Master McCoy won't be able to fix. Neil chooses Tulsi over Colleen and the Party descends into Civil War. Smart team players will be with Colleen in that scenario. However, if Tulsi decides to pull a Case maneuver for Akaka's old seat against Mazie, she will be set for life. Just $0.02.
on December 23,2012 | 12:18PM
allie wrote:
That jackal Lingle is circling the carcass hoping to sleaze her way into office. Hard to get rid of her. That said, can't we finally see some new talent. The same mediocre names don't inspire any passion.
on December 23,2012 | 07:42AM
Lindall wrote:
Brian Schatz would be a wise choice.
on December 23,2012 | 04:39AM
st1d wrote:
the senate seat belongs to the people of hawaii. while we were most fortunate to have inouye serve as our senator, it is not his seat.

peaceful rest, senator inouye, we are better because of you.


on December 23,2012 | 06:10AM
Lindall wrote:
st1d, very well said!
on December 23,2012 | 06:45AM
allie wrote:
agreed..I am amazed that nobody puts up a complaint that the people have no say in his replacement. Hawaii is an oligarchy run by clowns. Let us see some mature democracy out here
on December 23,2012 | 07:43AM
lee1957 wrote:
You do have a say, the first time when Neil was elected as governor, next time will be in 2014.
on December 23,2012 | 08:26AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
allie, it's called the law. We elect representatives to make law. You don't like it? Vote them out... but the people had their say when they elected Governor Abercrombie.
on December 23,2012 | 08:45AM
allie wrote:
ummm..half never voted
on December 23,2012 | 09:13AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
And you think they would in a special election? If they don't engage in the political process, I don't really care what their opinions are of that process.
on December 23,2012 | 09:48AM
Changalang wrote:
They had their say when they elected Tulsi and Colleen to Congressional seats. It is not like their "say" means they will get what they voted for. That is why many don't bother voting here. Who doesn't know that everything is rigged? Only Nago? (inside joke)
on December 23,2012 | 12:24PM
Changalang wrote:
Agreed; no single person did more for the people of Hawaii. Also, no single Senator has attained Emperor status since the days of the Roman Senate. Inouye is simply one of a kind and will be sorely and dearly missed. Hope Hawaii can adjust to our coming lower quality of life.
on December 23,2012 | 09:39AM
Kanewai wrote:
It is time for some fresh leadership which cares about Hawaii, the USA, the citizens-not the world and re-election or self agrandizement. Our king has arrived for Christmas. 1954 has gone and now we need to restart our future. No more overspending. We are bancrupt fiscally and morally.
on December 23,2012 | 06:31AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Speak for yourself if you are bankrupt fiscally and morally. "We" don't agree.
on December 23,2012 | 08:46AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
He was a WWII hero no doubt but like it or not, Senator Inouye did preside over the bankrupting of America over the last 50 years, much of that time he served as the appropriations committee chairman. He also made it possible for the government to spend excess social security tax money for other purposes, resulting in a IOU of over 6 trillion so far, owed to SS. The vast majority of America's 16 trillion debt was amassed during his tenure as head of the senate appropriations committee. That's what Kanewai meant by fiscally and morally bankrupt.
on December 23,2012 | 06:14PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Thank goodness we have you to explain his/her talking points. Glass houses...
on December 23,2012 | 06:50PM
Changalang wrote:
" Whether or not one found Case’s challenge of Akaka unseemly, the point is we have arrived at the juncture he predicted. With Akaka’s imminent retirement, Hawaii goes from many years of seniority in the upper chamber to absolutely none. "................... And Ed was punished for telling the truth on the matter, and Hawaii is not allowed to vote for the Emperor shunned Ed Case, even though he is the only politician with foresight to see the truth and the guts to speak it. Maybe Hawaii can get a New Day under way. Out with the old, in with the new.
on December 23,2012 | 06:42AM
OldDiver wrote:
The people voted for Akaka over Case. This was not some sort of conspiracy to keep Case out of office. Case may have been correct about Senate seniority but the people felt he was the wrong candidate.
on December 23,2012 | 08:09AM
Changalang wrote:
There was no conspiracy. I never said so. The people voted for Mazie over Ed as well. Case's plight was directed via musubi politics (not in racial terms, just a visual illustration in that all the pieces of rice stick together and are tightly held in place absent of free thought by a tight black band of seaweed.). What Dan says goes, and loyal voters will turn out to make that occur. We have a real working Democracy here and I support Hawaii fully as a loyal Democrat once the choices are set in stone. I refuse to accept the Emperor's New Clothes mindset of obedience, though. I am one of the guys that says, " Eh Boss, you are naked. Put something on, your a55 is showing." I have paid dearly for that my whole life. It is still worth the price. You would be surprised how many of those here who don't vote think with free minds, and are too disgusted or cautious to participate. Those are the Democrats of tomorrow, of today even. The new generation does not run on shame and silence. They are very comfortable of who they are, and like to question authority. Isn't that how you raised us, pops? The truth that will be ever apparent is the people get exactly the gov't they deserve. I am not salty at Ed's loss; but am impressed by his courage to tell the Emperor he is naked.
on December 23,2012 | 10:18AM
Wazdat wrote:
good points, the truth hurts.
on December 23,2012 | 11:31AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
Very nice Changalang--"...musubi politics (not in racial terms, just a visual illustration in that all the pieces of rice stick together and are tightly held in place absent of free thought by a tight black band of seaweed.)." May I quote you later?
on December 23,2012 | 02:46PM
Changalang wrote:
By all means. It is important to realize that the term is not a racial slur, though; because that would chepen the idea and distort the illustration; because musubi politics is not inherent to any one race, but to the island culture of extreme loyalty itself. It is a perfect descriptor. I was enjoying a spam musubi one day and I thought how it was another example of original Hawaii. Then, it me. It is the quintessential representation of Hawaii politics. Tulsi won via musubi politics, like Akaka before her. Cayetano won, all but the last election, and lost the last one against Kirk because of musubi politics. Dan Inouye was the ume inside the musubi, and irreplaceable. How is the rice going to know where to stick without him directing traffic? Having auntie collect all the blank absentee ballots from the disinterested extended family to turn in for them is musubi politics.
on December 23,2012 | 10:19PM
Wazdat wrote:
AGREE. POWER corrupts
on December 23,2012 | 11:30AM
allie wrote:
we all predicted the obvious hon
on December 23,2012 | 12:24PM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
Then, and even more now, Ed Case was right, and Dan Akaka was selfish.
on December 23,2012 | 06:50AM
hilocal wrote:
from_da_cheapseats, Akaka wanted to get his Akaka Bill passed before retiring. Had he been successful before Case's challenge, he would have retired and his seat would have been open.
on December 23,2012 | 07:19AM
from_da_cheapseats wrote:
Hilocal, sorry, but that bill was Dead on Arrival. Had no chance. Mainalnd haole senators saw it as racist, or a democratic give-away. When the economy went into the tank in 2007, it became a luxury the nation couldn't afford. Plus Akaka was out to lunch, he couldn't do deals, he was senile. He could have come home to good weather and food. His was a small mistake, but his party made a bigger one by riding a horse that was standing still. Now we pay the price
on December 23,2012 | 08:21AM
lee1957 wrote:
Then why retire now, with success still in jeopardy?
on December 23,2012 | 08:27AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
There's more than seniority involved. Values and political philosophy must be preeminent. Case was little more than a moderate Republican running as a Democrat. While seniority matters, it's how they vote,that matter most when choosing a senator to represent the state. Why trade seniority for someone who's political philosophy is more like Linda Lingle than Colleen Hanabsusa? Hawaii voters neither needed or wanted a more senior conservative in place of a progressive Democrat. During the past six years, Akaka cast many votes that aligned with the progressive philosophy to which most Hawaii voters subscribe. Those votes would have been cast very differently had Ed Case been elected.
on December 23,2012 | 07:33AM
OldDiver wrote:
Hawaii voters are not interested in a blue dog Democrat. Blue dog Democrats have been voting with Republicans to stall the economy in order to elect a Republican president. That nonsense was rejected in November.
on December 23,2012 | 08:13AM
Changalang wrote:
Eventually, all the old guard will follow Dan's path to the grave via old age. Then, what?
on December 23,2012 | 10:19AM
allie wrote:
Akaka believed he was entitled.
on December 23,2012 | 07:44AM
OldDiver wrote:
Nonsense, he was elected.
on December 23,2012 | 11:51AM
Pacej001 wrote:
You fellows are very entertaining, yet delusional about the fundamental facts: The Hawaii House delegation has zero power and will continue to do so even if the House goes democrat in two years, which redistricting makes relatively unlikely. In the Senate, the golden age of seniority is over, period, for the state. When it comes time to decide which democrat fiefdom gets the goodies, pork, military spending, grants for research, do you actually think the senior senators from California, New York, Illinois, or other grossly indebted blue states are going to give our little, guaranteed 4 electoral vote state anything but crumbs? Don't think so. So have fun shuffling your pair of twos, but in the end you'll still just have a pair of twos.
on December 23,2012 | 07:49AM
OldDiver wrote:
You forget, President Obama is from Hawaii.
on December 23,2012 | 08:14AM
Pacej001 wrote:
And you forget which branch of the government actually controls the purse strings. And you forget that Presidents are term limited. And you forget that during a president's last couple of years he's known as a lame duck, meaning minimized influence. And you forget that Obama is from Illinois, not hawaii. and you forget that California, hemoraging jobs and companies and high earners, may need a ship yard (or Federal transportation money, or you name it) more than Hawaii does.
on December 23,2012 | 08:29AM
lee1957 wrote:
But the power of the purse remains with congress, and BHO is gone if four years.
on December 23,2012 | 08:29AM
Changalang wrote:
BHO will have built a gov't of sustainable Clintonista to set up Hillary in 2016, the country's first female President just as gender demographics set the high water mark. BHO is ahead of schedule on seeding the gov't with tri-lateralist Clintonista. Why do you think Bill was there to carry his wife's Boss at the only time his past campaign was ever in real jeopardy? 2016 is already won, General.
on December 23,2012 | 09:37AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Also, I bring your attention to the qualities of the Hawaii delegation: A sharp-elbowed, unknown political hack, an invisible product of the old boy network, and a total life experience neophyte. To these three some here would add a guy whose claim to fame is managing a "non-profit". I think you fellows need to be thinking about manning the lifeboats.
on December 23,2012 | 08:41AM
Pacej001 wrote:
And finally, to paraphrase and old saying: "He who lives by the pork, dies by the pork."
on December 23,2012 | 09:08AM
Changalang wrote:
ROFL; so true. Luckily, we have Rail; the other white meat. ;)
on December 23,2012 | 09:33AM
Changalang wrote:
Do you think the House will be held by the Republican Majority in two years? Who is the delusional one? LOL.
on December 23,2012 | 09:22AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Two years is a lifetime in politics. Who knows what will happen, including you? Maybe the fiscal chickens will come home to roost between then and now, exposing "progressivism" for what it is, the rotten tooth that follows a lifelong, carefree diet of nothing but Hershey bars.
on December 23,2012 | 10:43AM
Changalang wrote:
Perhaps, but the House GOP is getting a divorce and they have to split their power equally between both parents, B0ner and his lovely wife, Rosco P. Coltrain. :D Hoyer already has Blue dogs lined up for weak districts with the numbers to make it happen. So, what happened to the GOP universe program on election day anyway? You guys are not even operating in the same league anymore.
on December 23,2012 | 12:30PM
Wazdat wrote:
The truth Hurts and this will hurt for DECADES...
on December 23,2012 | 11:33AM
wiliki wrote:
Why hasn't the SA made a recommendation when the time is so urgent?
on December 23,2012 | 08:26AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Because they know it won't influence the decision?
on December 23,2012 | 08:48AM
Changalang wrote:
DIng, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding ding, ding ding.............We have a winner. :)
on December 23,2012 | 09:24AM
wiliki wrote:
Sure it will affect the outcome..... the central committee needs candidates to choose from. A SA article will expand their choices and affect public opinion. The central committee tends to ignore public opinion but it is harder if the public is informed. Especially when there are so many excellent choices in Hawaii that might be interested in serving. The Sa can limit themselves to six choices or six interviews.
on December 23,2012 | 11:42AM
Changalang wrote:
You and I both know that the Committee will have Brian and Colleen in the final three and that they don't have the Nads not to throw their back channel support behind Hanabusa. They will be happy to dump that onto Neil's desk, though. I guess it comes with the job. Neil has the best perspective to pull the trigger on either. Both choices will come with blowback. Pick Colleen; elect Charles Djou. Pick Schatz; majorly upset the old boy network on all levels of influence. I stand 100% behind the Governor's choice before it is even made. Best if we all stand shoulder to shoulder in the end without the Emperor's umbrella of guidance and protection anymore. Time to rebuild together.
on December 23,2012 | 11:59AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Because what an editor thinks is of no consequence?
on December 23,2012 | 09:08AM
wiliki wrote:
Nope a lot of people in town look more carefully at a candidate if the SA makes an endorsement.
on December 23,2012 | 11:43AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Funny. When the advertiser recommends, I automatically reject. Pretty accurate so far.
on December 23,2012 | 12:30PM
false wrote:
Whoever assumes Inouye's seat in the Senate will likely be there for the next 20 years or longer---unless the person appointed is a cooperating placeholder who agrees not to run for that office in 2014. The notion of appointing someone to the Senate who will be there for the next 20 years may not set well with some Democrats who may have eyes on that office themselves. That being the case, the committee that decides this thing may be more inclined to appoint a placeholder than to create a strong incumbent (Hanabusa, Schatz, etc.). That would essentially leave the decision as to who fills the seat permanently (perhaps one of themselves) to the people of Hawaii in the 2014 election. Shouldn't it be we, the people, who decide who represents us, anyway? The rationale for appointing a placeholder rather than obeying Dan's wishes that Hanabusa be appointed to his seat would be that it's too dangerous to take Hanabusa out of the House and open the door to Charles Djou.
on December 23,2012 | 09:02AM
Changalang wrote:
Neal is not going to sacrifice Senate seniority for a placeholder. There is only an outside chance that anyone other than the honorable Rep. Hanabusa will be appointed from the 3 selected. I only wish this had happened twenty years earlier in her career. If she could accrue the seniority Dan could accrue, she would be the respected tigress of the Senate and Hawaii would be back to business as usual. However, as Dan's deathbed letter suggest; the revered Emperor did not envision his own mortality until it was too late for Hawaii, in his master plan. Colleen will do her best for us, but Hawaii must keep expectations of what she will be able to do in perspective. Hawaii is on its own now, and it isn't anybody's fault. Santa just died, and it is time for Hawaii to adapt and overcome via new avenues of power, wherever available. Aloha Spirit will now be defined as austerity for Hawaii.
on December 23,2012 | 09:31AM
Ronin006 wrote:
If Senator Inouye was of sound mind up until the end, as we have been told, then he would have been of sound mind when he signed the letter to Governor Abercrombie with his death-bed wish that Hanabusa replace him in the Senate and would have known that her seat in the House could go to a Republican. That apparently did not concern Senator Inouye, so why would it entail tough calculations or be a problem for the Democrat Party or Governor Abercrombie? Besides, it could be heresy or political suicide to go against the wishes of the Late Senator. Appoint Hanabusa and be done with it.
on December 23,2012 | 11:12AM
Wazdat wrote:
Because Dan was NOT the KING of Hawaii.
on December 23,2012 | 11:35AM
Changalang wrote:
See, the Hawaii GOP is behind a Hanabusa appointment because they know it puts Charles back in CD1. Sometimes it really sux to be accurate on future events.
on December 23,2012 | 12:02PM
allie wrote:
Djou is the only Republican that is semi-electable. He is an host good guy tied to a very bad party
on December 23,2012 | 12:47PM
Wazdat wrote:
Power is not always used for the good of the people.
on December 23,2012 | 11:26AM
Changalang wrote:
Always for some people at the expense of others; the specifics are variable for those who profit, and those who suffer.
on December 23,2012 | 12:03PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You mean that wet stuff coming down on top of me isn't rain?
on December 23,2012 | 12:28PM
Changalang wrote:
Stick out your tongue and taste it. You tell us. :)
on December 23,2012 | 10:20PM
Malani wrote:
What strenghts are needed tofill the shoes of Dan Inouye? We need the strengths of another Patsy Mink and a Dan Inouye who did not let any adverstiies stand in their way to prevent them from pressing forward for the causes they believed in. If the idea of choosing a replacement can be made without regard to favorities the Governor will have done well. So I ask, what is it that Dan Inouye saw in Hanabusa that he thought she would be the one he wanted to replace him?
on December 24,2012 | 06:10AM
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