Discussions about Akaka's seat started weeks ago, sources say

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The next primary election is 17 months away.  The date seems closer now that Senator Daniel Akaka announced he won't run for re-election.  That announcement yesterday took some by surprise, but behind the scenes two sources say it's been talked about for weeks.

If Senator Akaka stepped down early Governor Neil Abercrombie would be able to appoint who fills the seat.  That could give democrats an advantage against republicans next year.  But Abercrombie denies talking with fellow democrats to try and convince Senator Akaka to step down early.

"Whatever takes place in the future will take care of itself," said Governor Abercrombie.

"If Governor Abercrombie was thinking along those lines I think it's just a practical assessment of the reality of who can best run against Governor Lingle who I don't think there is any doubt is going to be the republican nominee," said Ed Case, former U.S. Representative.

Case says he has not had any discussions with the governor about the senate seat.  He also fully respects Senator Akaka's decision to serve the full term.

Senator Akaka's decision was to serve out his full term, I don't fault that decision at all," said Case. "Did somebody try to engineer that differently I don't know? I'm sure senator Inouye has been considering how to engineer this for some months if not years now."

A lot was made about Senator Akaka's lack of fundraising so far considering his campaign cash on hand is $66,000.  But that's actually more than all but one of his potential replacements has.  Representative Mazie Hirono has $99,400.  Governor Linda Lingle's campaign budget is balanced at zero.  Others are in debt from their last campaign.  Case's deficit is $15,700.  Lt. Governor Brian Schatz has a deficit of $33,500.  Representative Colleen Hanabusa is down $54,200 and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is in debt $69,300.

"We've been in that situation before. That's not the concern really from my perspective. The concern is a real personal one about getting back into a tough campaign," said Case.

Schatz, Hirono and Hanabusa said they were not ready to make any official announcement. We were unable to reach Lingle or Hannemann for comment.

"It's not a decision I feel I need to make today or tomorrow. I think it will come in its own good time," said Case.

According to the Campaign Spending Commission if a candidate ran for a city or state position before and did have some cash left they would not be able to use it in a federal race.

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