By Herbert A. Sample
The Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) — An Asian American political group last Thursday warned the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee not to take sides in the special election for Hawaii’s vacant 1st Congressional District seat.
The Asian American Action Fund, a self-described Democratic political action committee, says it would be unseemly for the DCCC to favor former Rep. Ed Case over state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Case is Caucasian and Hanabusa is Japanese American. Both are Democrats. Honolulu Councilman Charles Djou is the lone major Republican in the race.
“What we’re saying is that Hawaii is a state that’s 58 percent Asian American and the DCCC should be very sensitive to that fact,” Gautam Dutta, executive director of the action fund, said in an interview.
“What if this [was] an African American district and you had one white candidate and one African American candidate?” Dutta said. “Obviously, folks would think very carefully before they decided to weigh in in a contested party primary. The situation is analogous here.”
Andrew Stone, a spokesman for the DCCC, issued a statement in response, “The DCCC is focused on Charles Djou and making sure voters in Hawaii know about his record of supporting corporate special interests over the needs of families in Hawaii, like his attempts to eliminate taxes on big insurance companies and his opposition to tax cuts for middle class families in Hawaii.”
Hanabusa and her allies have spent several days fighting off reports that the DCCC favors Case as more electable in the winner-take-all election. Case has not addressed the reports.
The Democratic committee’s first ad, which began airing Tuesday, mostly aimed at a no-new-taxes pledge that Djou signed. But the use of a gender-specific term in the ad’s concluding statement — “We need a congressman on our side’’— added fuel to speculation about the DCCC.
Dutta called the ad’s conclusion “very insensitive.” Stone said Wednesday that there was no significance to the gender-specific term.
Dutta also contended Hanabusa has more support than Case from prominent Hawaii Democrats, labor unions, and other organizations, and has raised more money. U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) are backing Hanabusa.
Voters will begin receiving ballots in the all-mail special election in early May. They are due on May 22. ♦