In this July 18, 2014 photo, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, right, greets a supporter during a campaign event in Honolulu. The legacy of late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye has lingered over a tight Democratic primary between Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. (AP Photo/Oskar Garcia) ** Usable by LA, DC, CGT and CCT Only **
So Saturday is a big day in Hawaii for progressives and climate hawks because we have a big primary battle between progressive champ Senator Brian Schatz (D. HI) and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D. HI):


Inouye's legacy and influence as Hawaii's longtime standard-bearer in Washington, where he secured billions of dollars in federal money as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has hovered over the race.

Schatz often touts the nearly $16.7 million in federal funding he helped secure for the state's East-West Center, which is based in Honoloulu and serves as a cross-cultural educational facility.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hanabusa secured about $400 million in defense funds for the state with this year's passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. On her campaign website, Hanabusa boasts that since she entered Congress in 2011, she's helped direct "more than $1 billion in defense spending to Hawaii."

"Hawaiians care deeply about what's going on in Washington and specifically what their representatives are doing," Milner said. "With Inouye, there was never really a concern, because he had seniority and could secure federal money for the state."

Issues surrounding seniority came to the forefront in 2012 when Abercrombie selected Schatz to fill the Senate seat, in part because of Schatz's youth. The governor said he wanted to "ensure Hawaii remains strong in the long run, rebuilding the seniority" of the state's congressional delegation.

Hanabusa, 63, has assailed Abercrombie for those comments and, in a recent debate, called out Schatz for making age an issue. She noted that a memo Schatz's campaign sent late last year to supporters and potential donors mentioned that the 41-year-old incumbent has the "promise of serving many years in the U.S. Senate and accumulating all-important seniority for the constituents of Hawaii."

On the campaign trail, Schatz has consistently said age is not an issue.

The ethnic breakdown of voters in Hawaii, where Asians make up the largest segment of the population, is also likely to play role in Saturday's results, said California-based pollster Ben Tulchin.

"You have Schatz, who is Caucasian, and Hanabusa, who is Japanese  American. ... Stark ethnic contrasts between the two candidates, but will it be a factor in how voters cast ballots? That remains a big unknown," Tulchin said.

Tulchin noted that other factors, such as two hurricanes approaching Hawaii -- one Thursday night, the other a few days later -- could depress turnout. Early voting began in July, however.

For the most part, polling in the race has been mixed. A recent survey from Civil Beat, a left-leaning local public affairs reporting site, had Schatz leading Hanabusa by about 8 percentage points, while a recent poll from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser had Hanabusa up 8 percentage points. - Los Angeles Times, 8/8/14

It's very important that we get our supporters out to the polls on Saturday because the coming hurricane could be a factor on who wins the nominee:


The storms are 11th hour wild cards in what's been an historic primary season in the Aloha State. Competitive races for both the U.S. Senate and governor will determine the future of the Democratic Party in Hawaii, which has long been divided along generational, ethnic and political lines.

One on side, a mostly younger, more liberal, whiter wing of the party represented by Sen. Brian Schatz and Gov. Neil Abercrombie. On the other, a more centrist, older, more Asian American faction embodied by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and state Sen. David Ige.

Polling -- which is notoriously difficult in Hawaii -- shows both contests are competitive. The soon-to-arrive storms are expected to lower turnout, which one observer says could work against the two incumbents.

"I think it helps Hanabusa," said University of Hawaii political scientist Colin Moore. The congresswoman's base is the old guard Japanese American political establishment, which is very loyal, Moore noted. They are expected to turn out in substantial numbers even in bad weather.

Hurricane Iselle is approaching the Big Island, triggering the first hurricane warning there in more than two decades. According to the National Weather Service, the center of Iselle is expected to pass over the Big Island later Thursday.

As if that weren't enough for the state to deal with, there's Hurricane Julio. That storm may miss Hawaii to the north over the weekend, but could still bring inclement weather to the islands that may discourage people from leaving their homes to vote.

With the storm approaching, the campaigns have instructed supporters to take down signs and banners. Early voting ends Thursday, and both state parties have encouraged voters to take advantage of the option with the storms headed to the area. - Washington Post, 8/7/14

Schatz though has run an excellent campaign and has the backing of President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. NV) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) but Hanabusa has some big support as well:


But Hanabusa was Daniel K. Inouye‘s pick to succeed him in the Senate – and this vote of confidence might carry a stronger weight among Hawaiians than even Obama’s. Inouye had served the state for more than half a century and commanded widespread popularity. Meanwhile, Gov. Abercrombie is himself facing an uphill reelection battle against challenger David Ige, favored to win in recent polls. All told, Hanabusa seems to have won the broader Democratic grassroots battle; ActBlue, an online fundraising website, bundled close to $14,000 for her campaign, but just over $2,000 for Schatz. Overall, 13 percent of her  individual campaign contributions have come from donors giving under $200, versus only 5 percent for Schatz.

Another recent development on the island might resonate favorably for Hanabusa. In 2012, Hawaii elected its first female senator, Mazie K. Hirono. Like Hirono, Hanabusa has the backing of EMILY’s List, which poured more than $250,000 into her campaign through a slew of mainly under-$200 earmarked donations from individuals across the country (as well as a $5,000 contribution from its PAC). This makes the pro-abortion rights group her top donor by far. The biggest outside spender in the race, Women Vote!, a super PAC associated with EMILY’s List, has made Hawaii one of its top priorities along with North Carolina. Women Vote! spent close to $700,000 — its largest investment this cycle — to support Hanabusa.

But Schatz has strong grassroots winds backing him too — mainly environmentalist organizations. The League of Conservation Voters gave his campaign $32,000, including $7,000 through its PAC, and made $465,000 in outside expenditures in the race – one of only two in which the group has spent this cycle. Schatz also won the endorsement of the Sierra Club. And MoveOn.org, which spent heavily to support Obama in 2012, has mobilized to support Schatz’s bid, opening an office in Honolulu and spending $9,000 in the race. - Open Secrets, 8/8/14

Schatz has an amazing record as a true blue progressive from tackling climate change, GMO labels, cracking down on domestic surveillance, expanding Social Security, refinancing student loans, pushing for gun control, standing up for organized labor, fighting for equal pay, standing up for LGBT Americans and discharge gay veterans and protecting reproductive rights. Lets not pass up this opportunity to keep a great progressive in the U.S. Senate. If you live in Hawaii, you can find your polling place here:


And if you want to get involved with Schatz's campaign and help get voters out to the polls, you can do so here:

HONOLULU - OCTOBER 8:  Brian Schatz, the Democratic Party Nominee for Hawaii State Lieutenant Governor, poses for a portrait after an interview with Honolulu CivilBeat reporter-host Chad Blair at Neil Abercrombie's campaign headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii on October 8, 2010. (Photo by Kent Nishimura for CivilBeat)

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Aug 08, 2014 at 09:17 AM PDT.

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