Hawaii Democrats Are Struggling
HONOLULU — Hawaii should be a happy outpost for the Democratic Party. It has a Democratic governor. Democrats overwhelmingly control the Legislature. It has Barack Obama in the White House and all the prestige that brings, most recently an Asia-Pacific economic summit meeting with the president as its host, packing this city’s streets, restaurants and hotels with international leaders.
Yet these are hardly happy days for Hawaii Democrats. The governor, Neil Abercrombie, is ending his first year under a storm of criticism; he referred to himself the other evening as ‘the most unpopular governor in America.’ Mr. Obama’s struggles in Washington have cast a bit of a pall here.
And the Republican Party suddenly has a shot of picking up a United States Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands for more than 30 years, with the announcement by Linda Lingle, a Republican former governor, that she will seek the seat held by Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the retiring Democrat. A Republican victory here would be a serious embarrassment to Mr. Obama (though that could be the least of his problems on election night) and would make it that much more likely that Republicans take back the Senate.
‘Hawaiians want change, and if the Democrats don’t offer change, Hawaiians are going to vote for the Republican who offers change,’ Ed Case, a former member of Congress who is seeking the Democratic nomination, said the other day while campaigning here in a sea of leather and roaring motorcycles at the beginning of a Toys for Tots biker parade. ‘And Lingle is going to spend $7 million trying to be the change candidate.’
This race is definitely worth watching.