U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says he will not formally endorse a candidate in the U.S. Senate race next year until after the primary, but he is telling people who ask him that he prefers U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono to former congressman Ed Case.
The senior senator said last spring after U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka announced he would not run for another term that he would not endorse in the primary. But over the past few months Inouye has made several positive comments about Hirono and he and Akaka attended a labor fundraiser for her campaign in Washington, D.C.
“My thinking has not really changed. But, after all, I’m just like anyone else. I’m actively involved in government affairs. I’m a voter. And I have my likes and dislikes. And for me to continually say, ‘I have nothing to add. I have nothing to add,’ makes me look ridiculous and foolish,” Inouye said today by telephone from Washington.
“And so when people ask me, I say, ‘Well, I’ve been Mazie’s friend for a long time and I’ve watched her work and I like the way she does things.’”
Asked whether he considers that an endorsement, he said: “Well, if you want to consider that, that’s fine, because obviously if I’m going to say those things about her when I go to the polls I’m going to vote for her.”
Case has said he apologized to Inouye in the spring for any ill will that might remain for his unsuccessful primary challenge against Akaka in 2006. Inouye and other establishment Democrats helped Akaka with fundraising and endorsements to fend off the insurgency.
Jesse Broder Van Dyke, an Akaka spokesman, said the senator has not made an endorsement but has been supportive of Hirono’s campaign.