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That's the latest ad from Daily Kos's newest Orange to Blue and Upgrade the Senate candidate, Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI-2). There are plenty of reasons to be excited about her candidacy to replace the retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, from her stellar voting record as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to her chance to make history as the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate.

But, more compelling, there's this:

Born in Japan, Mazie spent her early years on her grandparents' rice farm, sent there by her mother to escape a father whose chronic alcoholism and compulsive gambling left the family with few means and even less stability. When nearly eight years old, Mazie, her mother and her older brother fled Japan in search of a better life. Her mother had to make the wrenching decision to leave Mazie's baby brother with her grandparents.

With one suitcase with all their belongings, the three crossed the Pacific in steerage and arrived in Hawaii. Life was hard for many years. The family rented a single room in a boarding house in the early years, sharing the single bed by sleeping sideways. [...]

Not knowing a word of English, Mazie was enrolled at Ka'ahumanu Elementary School, then at Koko Head Elementary School. [...]

In elementary school, she got her first job—serving as the student cashier at lunch hour. The pay was a hot lunch every day. In time she'd take on a paper route, in addition to doing the cooking and cleaning at home while her mother and grandparents worked.

Upgrade the Senate bug

Hirono knows, has lived through, the kind of struggle that plenty of Americans have endured. Sure, lots of other politicians had struggle in their life, but when they got to the the lofty heights of national elected office, didn't remember those humble beginnings and work to make sure the opportunities they had in life were available for everyone. That's what Hirono's done, from her first elected position the state legislature in Hawaii. As a consumer crusader, advocate for working people, and for children, Hirono made a real difference in the lives of the real people.

If you need more reason, consider the alternative in this primary race for Hawaii's Senate seat: former congressman, and Blue Dog, Ed Case. A quick review of his record: voted for the Iraq war and was in favor of an open-ended commitment to keep American troops there; voted to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even after it was clear the Iraq war was bankrupting the nation; voted for the bankruptcy bill that protects the credit industry at the expense of the consumer; wants to raise the retirement age for Social Security; and would have opposed President Obama's Jobs Act, if he'd been in the House. The last thing the Senate needs is another LieberDem, which Case most definitely is.

Need more incentive? Hirono is stomping the Republican candidate, former Gov. Linda Lingle, in the polls. In this one from the Mellman Group for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee that has Hirono with a 19 point lead over Lingle, 52-33. A second, from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, confirms that, showing Hirono besting Lingle 58-39. That poll shows has Hirono far ahead of "Democrat" Ed Case as well, 55-37, but other recent polling has the primary race neck-and-neck.

Let's send a true progressive to the Senate, someone who isn't just from the 99 percent, but who has worked for the 99 percent.

Give $3 today to Mazie Hirono, so we can Upgrade the Senate!

Rep. Hirono's answers to our Orange to Blue questionnaire are below the fold.

Daily Kos Orange to Blue Questionnaire:

1. Do you support:

      a) A public health insurance option, offered by the federal government and tied to Medicare reimbursement rates plus 5% (H.R. 3200, Subtitle B, including § 223(b)(1)(A), as introduced in the House, 111th Congress)?

Yes.  I am a strong supporter of the public health insurance option and stood with those who fought to have it included in the version of the Affordable Care Act that passed the House.

     b) The Medicare You Can Buy Into Act (H.R. 4789, 111th Congress), which would allow all citizens or permanent residents to buy into Medicare?

Yes. I cosponsored H.R. 4789 in the 111th Congress.

2. Do you agree that any immigration reform bill should:

            a) Contain a meaningful path to citizenship — one that does not include overly-punitive fines or a touchback requirement — for law-abiding undocumented immigrants currently in the United States;

As the first immigrant woman of Asian ancestry to be sworn into congressional office, immigration is a deeply personal issue for me and my family. I support comprehensive immigration reform that helps to support strong, united families and treats all immigrant families fairly and equally. Too many families have been separated for too long. I recognize the need to address the situation of the millions of undocumented persons in our country, but I want to be sure that we do it in a way that does not disadvantage those who have played by the rules and have been patiently waiting to immigrate or to attain citizenship. Having emigrated from Japan to the United States when I was nearly eight years old, I also strongly support the DREAM Act, which provides a means for undocumented young people who were brought into the country when they were 15 years old or younger to adjust their status to that of a conditional permanent resident. Many of these young people know no other home than America, and it would be cruel to send them to a country they don't know.  

b) Ensure that expanded legal permanent immigration, rather than expansion of temporary worker programs, serves as the United States' primary external answer to workforce shortages; and

I agree that we should expand legal permanent immigration and that we should recognize the value of bringing immigrants who offer skills our country needs. These changes should be part of the discussion on comprehensive immigration reform. At the same time, we need to do much more to improve education and workforce training so that more Americans can fill the jobs that our economy needs.

c) Ensure that any non-agricultural temporary worker programs maintain current caps on the total number of non-agricultural temporary worker visas issued, and also include a meaningful prevailing wage requirement keyed to the Service Contract Act and the Davis-Bacon Act?

Again, we need to do more to improve our education and workforce training systems to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. I strongly support maintaining prevailing wage requirements and have spoken in support of the Davis-Bacon Act on the House floor and in my Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Education and the Workforce Committee. Temporary workers must not be brought in in order to lower wages for American workers.

3. Do you oppose each of the following changes to Social Security and Medicare:

     a) Raising the retirement age;

Yes. It is a hardship for many workers, especially those who perform physical labor, to delay retirement.    

    b) Eliminating or reducing the cost of living adjustment;

Yes. In fact, it has been demonstrated that the current formula probably underestimates the cost of living for seniors.

     c) Directly reducing benefits;

Yes

     d) Means-testing recipients; and

Yes. Once you begin means-testing for benefits, these programs will lose the broad support they currently enjoy.

     e) Privatization, so-called "personal accounts," and vouchers?

Yes

4. Do you support the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409/S. 560, 111th Congress), including the provision known as "card check"?

Yes.  I have cosponsored the bill in each Congress that it has been introduced since being elected.

5. Do you pledge to vote against any efforts to extend the temporary tax cuts for income over $250,000 (Public Law 111-312)?

I believe we must find a balanced approach to addressing our budget problems. Just last week, Secretary Geithner said that extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2 percent would cost about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, today’s corporate CEO’s make 380 times what the average worker makes—A significant increase from 1980 when they “only” made 42 times what average workers made.

We simply can’t afford to continue these tax cuts for the top 2%, especially while we’re facing deep cuts to priorities like education, transportation, research and development, and a host of other things that are vital to our prosperity and long-term economic growth.

I continue to oppose extending the temporary tax cuts for the wealthy but I won't make a pledge tied to a specific amount—especially if we take seriously the prospect of “comprehensive tax reform” which could be a debate that reshapes our tax code for a generation.  What I will say is that my priorities in any tax reform debate will be how to protect the middle class while strengthening our economy and putting our government finances back in order.

6. If elected to the Senate, do you pledge to restore majority rule to the Senate and work/vote to end the filibuster?

The misuse of the filibuster has become a disgrace in recent years. It has stopped the work of the Senate and been damaging to the institution. Even Senator Reid has acknowledged that the Republicans have abused the filibuster so much that changes are needed.  In fact, it’s been reported that the Senate will make changes to these rules when the new Congress convenes in January. At that time only a simple majority will be necessary to make some much needed changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules.  Of course, we need to make sure that the changes made are well thought out and that their impact is considered carefully.  I look forward to being a part of the debate about how best to accomplish that.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 02:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by APA Kos : Asian/Pacific Americans at DailyKos and Hirono for Senate.

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