Ed Case had a lot going for him in his bid to return to Congress when Neil Abercrombie vacated his HI-01 House seat. He had residual name ID from his previous stint in the House and a statewide Senate run. He had the implicit backing of national Democrats as the candidate best equipped to win. He had resources funneled to him by those same Washington Democrats. He had, basically, everything.
Except the support of Daniel Inouye. The powerful Senator for all of Hawaii’s history didn’t support the ConservaDem Case in the unusual special election won by Republican Charles Djou, when Case and Inouye fave Colleen Hanabusa split the vote. Inouye still took personally Case’s ultimately unsuccessful primary against Sen. Daniel Akaka in 2006. So he refused to budge when national Dems wanted to back Case and force Hanabusa to drop out of the race. As it turned out, Hanabusa beat Case in the May 22 election, despite polls consistently showing her in third. And after Case intimated that he would continue on to the September Democratic primary, he has now dropped out of the race.
Former congressman Ed Case said today that he will withdraw from the Democratic primary for Congress, explaining that too much is at stake to divide the party as it attempts to win back urban Honolulu’s 1st Congressional District from U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, (R-Hawaii).
Case made the announcement during his remarks at the state Democratic convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, his main rival in the primary, joined him on stage and presented Case with a lei.
Case, a moderate often at odds with the party’s establishment, told delegates that he is proud to be a Democrat. He received an extended standing ovation from delegates.
Inouye described himself as “deeply moved” that Case would step down, saying “He showed that he was a Democrat.”
The subtext is that Case showed he couldn’t act against the interests of Hawaii Democrats. His positions against working families in Hawaii made him unelectable to his base, and Inouye made sure Case wouldn’t get away with it.
Incidentally, Inouye ensured the best result possible for his state and the nation. If the D-Trip intervened and forced Hanabusa out of the race, we’d be stuck with the lesser of two evils. Instead, Hanabusa looks well-positioned for November, and the state party in Hawaii is unified in the effort. Djou just this past week voted against extending unemployment benefits and closing loopholes that allow multinational corporations and super-rich money managers to evade taxes. He’s toast.
The D-Trip giving up on the special election turned out to be the best option for all involved.