POSTED: 11:52 a.m. HST, Aug 12, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 04:34 p.m. HST, Oct 23, 2012
Former congressman Ed Case conceded to U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono tonight in the Democratic primary race for Senate. Hirono will go on to face former Gov. Linda Lingle.
Hirono had about 58 percent while Case had about 41 percent with 250 of 250 precincts counted. The two Democrats are competing to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.
Case, with his wife Audrey by his side, condeded to his supporters at Ward Warehouse at about 9:15 p.m., after the 9 p.m. results continued to show Hirono with about a 16 percentage point lead.
“I know that it’s tough to say that something we worked so hard for has not been successful,” he said. “But the voters have voted their choice tonight and their choice is Mazie Hirono..."
"Mazie, we wish you well in the General Election. We know you will hold the banner of the Democratic Party high.”
In her Republican primary, Lingle easliy beat former state lawmaker and attorney John Carroll. Lingle was up over Carroll, 90 percent to nearly 6 percent after early returns.
At Hirono’s campaign gathering at 99 Ranch Market in Mapunapuna, supporters reacted with vocal enthusiasm, if not necessarily surprise, to the initial set of results showing their candidate with a healthy advantage over Case.
The liberal Hirono, 64, had strong support from traditional Democrats and union workers, while Case, 59, appealed to moderate Democrats, independents and Republicans.
The Hawaii Senate race could be one of several nationally that determine the balance of political power in the Senate after the November elections. Senate Democrats and independents hold a 53 to 47 edge over Republicans.
Hawaii Democrats have said that preserving a Democratic Senate is important to the islands because U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, would retain his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee and his title of Senate President Pro Tempore. Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, if he is re-elected in November, would also benefit if Democrats keep control.
But Lingle has said that Hawaii would be in a better position if the state has a senator in both camps, especially if Republicans capture the Senate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defeats Obama.
Lingle, 59, has campaigned on a bipartisan message.
The Senate race has had the same key players as the 2002 campaign for governor. A decade ago, Hirono narrowly defeated Case in the primary for governor but lost to Lingle in the general election.
Both Case and Hirono went on to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which covers rural Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. Case lost a primary challenge to Akaka in 2006. Hirono won the campaign to replace Case in Congress.
Lingle, the first Republican elected governor in 40 years, served for two terms.
Star-Advertiser reporters Michael Tsai and June Watanabe contributed to this report.