HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just 40 days to go until the state's primary election - and after months of declining a televised debate, Mazie Hirono announced Monday she will go head-to-head with Democratic opponent, Ed Case.
Case and Hirono have met before in this election season but never on a statewide, commercial TV news outlet. The Congresswoman says she wants to emphasize their differing positions in the run-up to the August 11th primaries. She says poll numbers did not prompt her decision to greenlight a televised debate. "We agreed to five debates. We've had four," explains Hirono. "And in these debates, what came out, really, were the clear differences."
Case says he's surprised but pleased by the announcement and would actually welcome several TV debates - now, in mid-July, and at the beginning of August. "I'm happy that she changed her mind, as to at least one," says Case. "Now, what we need to do is provide voters with a really full debate schedule."
Logistics and details of the TV debate are yet to be hammered out, but Case says he'd like to hold it before absentee balloting begins. The state Office of Elections says that's in about three weeks.
Hirono or Case will then be pitted against whoever wins the Republican primary - either Linda Lingle or John Carroll. Hirono says Case is already looking to take on Lingle at an August 15th event with the Maui Chamber of Commerce.
Hirono says, "Speaking of debate nonsense, Ed Case has already agreed to debate Linda Lingle after the primary. Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch."
But Case counters that Hirono is invited to that Maui event, too, but has yet to respond. "I don't think Lingle's going to shy away from debates. She said straight out that she's going to debate. And I've said, straight out, that I'm going to debate her, if I'm the primary winner. Mazie has not said whether she will debate Lingle, and I think she needs to say that."
The candidates are vying for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka.