Senate Race Heating Up, But Will Debate Be A Bore?

Rep. Ed Case
Rep. Ed Case
Sen. Daniel Akaka
Sen. Daniel Akaka

(KHNL) - Congressman Ed Case wants to directly question Sen. Dan Akaka in front of a live television audience.

"I won't accept conditions that turn this debate into a non-debate," Case said. "I wont accept conditions that turn this debate into a farce, into an artificial representation of what doesn't happen in the United States Senate."

On Monday Akaka agreed to debate Case on Aug. 31 on Hawaii Public Television.

On Tuesday, Case countered with a series of demands. Case said he wants to make the broadcast available not only to local TV stations but C-Span as well.

Case said the senator is hoping for a small viewing audience.

"I think fundamentally his campaign is afraid to show senator akaka out there in public so that voters can make an informed choice," Case said.

But political observers say incumbents like Akaka rarely debate their opponents.

"That's not the rule and it certainly isn't the rule for an incumbent. Usually incumbents try to avoid it," said Dan Boylan, a political analyst.

Boylan said Case's may be counting on his background as an attorney to give him an advantage in a debate.

In order for Akaka to succeed, Boylan said, the senator needs to show he's on top of the issues.

"He doesn't have to appear better, he doesn't have to appear quicker, he doesn't appear that he could beat case in court," Boyland said. "He has to appear competent on the issues before the folks."

Case said he wants to negotiate terms of the debate in front of the news media.

"I'm not going to allow Sen. Akaka to have what he wants, which is an excuse to not do even one debate," Akaka said. "But everyone is going to know exactly what happened."

A spokeswoman for Akaka's campaign says the senator wants AARP to coordinate negotiations over the debate format. AARP is sponsoring the event.

"The congressman wants an issue here that is rather unrealistic," Boylan said. "In my mind i can't remember when that was ever done."