Political Radar


May 3rd, 2013

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz issued a statement on Friday in response to Irene Hirano Inouye's endorsement of U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary next year.

Inouye's widow had said it was Inouye's last wish for Hanabusa to fill out his term.

From Schatz:

I realize it may be unusual to comment on an opponent's endorsement, but I have great respect for Irene Inouye and her husband's legacy to Hawaii.

When news of Rep. Hanabusa's candidacy broke over a week ago, I phoned Mrs. Inouye to express my respect for her and the late Senator. Mrs. Inouye very graciously informed me she would be supporting Rep. Hanabusa's candidacy. I told Mrs. Inouye that I understood her decision, and assured her that, as Hawaii's Senator, I will continue doing everything in my power to honor Sen. Inouye's memory and accomplishments.

As for my work in the U.S. Senate and on this campaign, I will continue to focus on building an even stronger, more prosperous future for Hawaii,  and do so grounded in our state's unique and time-honored traditions.

Hirano Inouye said Friday that Schatz, in their telephone call, had also asked her for her support.

"Brian called last week and politely asked if I would remain neutral or endorse him," she said in a statement.

5 Responses to “Respect”

  1. kamaaina808:

    Asking for an endorsement seems fair enough - but asking her to remain neutral? I find that strange.

  2. Kolea:

    It sounds like Schatz made the right move and handled it well, politely. As for kamaaina808's confusion, it is very common for candidates to request an endorsement from significant personalities and, failing that, to express a hope they might be willing to remain neutral. There is nothing strange about such a request.

    Hanabusa has to be careful how she plays the Inouye card. She pretends to say she will not use it, yet she calls attention to the "fact" she will not use it, as a way of using it. Clearly Hanabusa, or her handlers--the same Old Boys who had originally hand-carried Inouye's letter to Abercrombie and released it to the press in order to try to trap the Governor, bankster Walter Dods and lawyer-corporate director, Jeff Watanabe-- have certainly talked to Irene Inouye and asked her to help Colleen. "Independently," of course.

    But "the Inouye Card" is likely to alienate nearly as many voters as it persuades. While most voters have great respect for Senator Inouye, the number who were offended when his "dying request" was ignored is probably not much larger than those who think the Governor had the right, perhaps even the duty, to exercise his own judgment rather than "take orders" from Walter Dods and Watanabe. (Er, I mean "from Inouye). And the Dods/Watanabe involvement risks reminding voters of the dark side of the Inouye modus operandi. whereby people close to him used their connections to secure contracts and call the shots in Hawaii. Hanabusa already has an image as a backroom dealer for special interests--i.e., her longstanding relationship with Jeff Stone. DO we really want to continue that way of doing business in Hawaii, with a Dods-Watanabe-Stone triumvirate determining who gets what?

    This is my personal greatest concern about electing Colleen Hanabusa. WHile there are some differences between Hanabusa and Schatz on the issues, with Hanabusa being somewhat better in one area andSchatz stronger in another, the bottom line distinction seems to be do we want to continue the political-economic cronyism which has determined the outlines of our political and government contracting system? I think that is what is at stake here. And those who have attached themselves like barnacles to Senator Inouye's career are looking for another vehicle for serving their interests and have settled upon Hanabusa to be that surface.

  3. ohiaforest3400:

    Great stuff, Kolea, love reading your take. Several thoughts:

    1. Do not understimate Irene Hirano Inouye. She is more capable than most men, particularly in deciding where to throw her weight, and will throw it where she believes is best, which also happens to be what DKI wanted. Don't think for a moment she needs Walter Dods or anybody else to tell her how to expend her considerable political capital.

    2. You are so right about "saying by not saying." Sort of like throwing the race card in mainland politics by saying you're not going to throw it. The thing I think you will see Hanbusa do is to let others raise it, even Schatz supporters, by asking if she is running just because DKI would want her to or because Abercrombie ignored his dyingperreason for the job and that's why he supported me, not the other way around."

    3. I think you are right that this campaign will, indeed, be an exercise in drawing lines between generations, camps, etc. I have my own reasons for disliking some of the Hanabusa principals, although I do not necessarily subscribe to your nefarious, conspiratorial view of them. But I think you also sell Hanabusa short by suggesting she is some sort of blank canvas on which others may freely paint or a piece of tidal basalt with crabs scurrying across the opihi adhered to her surface. She is pursuing HER goals, even if that is mostly or all raw legislative ambition, which is why she chose the Senate race over the Governor's race that so many wanted her to pusruse because of THEIR enmity for Abercrombie. For better or ill, she is leading the way, not following. And, unlike Abercrombie, she knows that her skills lie in legislating, not governing.

    Look out for Hanabusa; if I get in one scrap, I know who I like by my side, and it ain't Schatz. Of course, if he can prove that there's no need scrap, he gets to keep the job.

  4. ohiaforest3400:

    Mangled post at end of #2, above. Should read: ". . . or because Abercrombie ignored his dying wish. She will likely answer that 'I am the best person for the job and that's why he supported me, not the other way around.'"

  5. Goober:

    Don't underestimate Japanese, PERIOD.

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