Ed Case has gone from pariah to player in this fall’s Democratic primary.
Even after dropping out of the 1st Congressional District race, Case is becoming something of a game-changer in this election.
First it was his dramatic announcement at the state Democratic convention, pulling out of the race for Congress.
Imagine what a political primary season this would have been if Case had remained in the race against former state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa for the Democratic nomination.
The May special election was bloody enough, but a divisive three-month primary fight would have weakened the entire Democratic ticket.
So when Case withdrew, he was immediately called "a statesman" and a "true Democrat."
Case also is a canny survivor who enhanced his political viability for future campaigns. Stepping aside and giving the primary to Hanabusa effectively buried the lingering resentment against Case for trying to replace U.S. Sen. Dan. Akaka, who has become an icon of beloved geniality in local political circles.
Over the weekend, Case dropped another bomb, by endorsing Neil Abercrombie over Mufi Hannemann for governor in the Democratic primary.
The announcement capped a rough week of bad judgment and political events for Hannemann.
First, the former Honolulu mayor stumbled with a campaign flier asking voters to compare the wives, birthplace and educational background of himself and Abercrombie. From GOP Gov. Linda Lingle to Democratic Party titular head U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, the Hannemann flier was condemned.
Then Friday night, Abercrombie scored point after point in a one-hour live television debate with Hannemann.
The evening started with Hannemann offering up a semi-apology for the flier, giving the old "If this offends you, then I’m sorry" line.
On Sunday, the independent Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll came out, showing Abercrombie continuing to lead Hannemann.
It was Case, however, who fired off an e-mail to supporters that is sure to damage Hannemann’s entire campaign.
Case is the transitional figure in Democrat-Republican politics. He appeals to independent voters. He votes like a social progressive on civil rights and the environment while supporting business on fiscal issues.
His voters are the sort that Hannemann needs to win in September.
While Case came out for Abercrombie, he fired two torpedoes below the waterline at Hannemann.
Case called him "the most dangerous politician in a generation," adding that Hannemann governs "by fear and intimidation."
"He is the product and clear choice of a political machine that must end. While professing unity, he’s practiced the politics of division, exploiting rather than healing differences of race, origin and economic status," Case said.
Abercrombie said Case’s support will be "huge" for the campaign.
For Hannemann, if Abercrombie wins, he will know that Case was indeed part of the reason.