WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ed Case had five minute allotted to try to convince the more than 600 delegates at the Hawaii Democratic Party Convention that he was their primary candidate for the U.S. Senate.
The former congressman actually was onstage for a little more than nine minutes Saturday, trying to rally the party at the Sheraton Waikiki.
Case did not mention his opponent, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, during his speech. Instead, he talked about the frontrunner for the Republicans. "We cannot take the candidacy of Linda Lingle for granted any more than we did in 2002," he told the gathering.
According to Case, that's because Lingle was limited to two four-year terms as governor, while a senator could remain in office for a generation.
Case also said this election could change the balance of power in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
"The state may come down to making that difference, and I think people should think that one through as they make their primary choice," Case told reporters after his address.
Lingle's campaign issued a statement ahead of the convention. "Democrat leaders from across the state will gather at this weekend's State Party Convention to talk about anything but the important issues facing the people of Hawaii," said Lingle's deputy campaign manager Lenny Klompus. "They will instead take the stage and take inappropriate shots at former Governor Linda Lingle."
The party chair also addressed a controversy over a plan to charge candidates $500 a minute to address the convention. Dante Carpenter said it was meant to raise funds for the party. "We decided that because at the end we had only one candidate -- that happened to be Mazie, on Sunday -- that it kinda looked like pay for play, and that's really not the image that we wanted to portray," he said.
"We're not just here for the money. Obviously we're here to make doggone sure that the general public is well aware of who we have by way of candidates for this most important office," Carpenter added.
While Lingle had 20 minutes to address Hawaii Republicans at their convention two weeks ago, Case and Hirono were just given five minute each. Carpenter said that was because there were many speakers, and the convention delegates also would be spending a lot of time discussing other business. That didn't bother Case.
"I appreciate the party giving me the change to speak to the delegates," Case said. "I'm sorry it wasn't a debate. I'll take the five minutes."
Case's speech was greeted with polite applause. He remained upbeat about his chances in the primary as he shook hands with delegates.
"Well we think we have a lot of support in this audience first of all, and that's been shown both by the polls that we've just done, as well as just talking story at the convention itself." he said.
Hirono will have equal time when she addresses the convention Sunday.