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It's been awhile since I last diaried the open Congressional seat in Hawaii's second district.  A lot has changed since then.  Duke Bainum (D), Mike Gabbard (R), and Peter Carlisle (potential R) never got in the race.  State Senator Clayton Hee (D), Honolulu City Councilman Nestor Garcia (D), and former state Representative Quentin Kawananakoa (R) jumped in.

More updates, as well as thoughts and predictions, in the extended entry:

Democrats:

Mazie Hirono snagged EMILY's List over Colleen Hanabusa, and as far as I can tell, remains the frontrunner.  Absent any major shakeups, I predict she'll win the primary with a low plurality of the vote.  She has pledged to join the Progressive Caucus, and Hawaii kossacks seem pretty happy with her.

Matt Matsunaga was the runnerup to Ed Case in the 2002 Dem primary, getting 30% of the vote, but I really haven't seen much of him since then.  He basically ran on his name (son of a former Senator) and career in the state Senate.  He's been out of a job since 2002, and I don't see why he would do any better this year.  His fundraising has been curiously low.

Colleen Hanabusa has fundraised well, but still, she only got 8% when this seat was open in 2002.  She has become a larger presence in the state Senate since then, but I don't think this is her year.

Brian Schatz's fundraising has been surprisingly strong, but he is still the newest face and has a smaller constituency than any of the other major players.  I don't think he will win, but I expect to see more of this young progressive in the future.

Gary Hooser joined dailykos and began posting diaries, and was endorsed by the Sierra Club.  Although he has raised his name recognition on the blogs, he still faces the challenge of raising it on Oahu, since he is the only one to represent a neighbor island.

Ron Menor has been kind of invisible, and the past few months have not been any more kind to his gas cap than when it was in effect.  An early poll showed him to be the only candidate with net negative approval rating...I don't think he has a serious chance of winning the primary.

Clayton Hee and Nestor Garcia are later entrants into the race, and while both have their constituencies, I don't see either one being a serious enough player statewide to win.  A couple minor candidates without political experience also filed in the Democratic primary.

My prediction: Hirono 31%, Matsunaga 16%, Hanabusa 15%, Schatz 11%, Hooser 10%, Menor 6%, Hee 5%, Garcia 5%, others 1%.

Republicans:

Quentin Kawananakoa is in, and he brings an inherited family fortune with him.  He has openly said he is the better Republican to run because he can dip into his millions.  As a state Representative from 1994-1998, he became minority leader and was about to challenge US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D, HI-01) in 1998 until he was hospitalized (apparently for hypertension) and dropped out.  At 36 years old, he was seen as a rising star among Hawaii Republicans, along with similarly moderate Maui Mayor Linda Lingle (who is now governor).  Now, at 44, Kawananakoa is still younger than most of the Democrats running, but he has been out of the public eye for 8 years.  Plus he has that 1989 conviction for cocaine possession, though I doubt many people care at this point.

Bob Hogue's fundraising has been poor, but he still maintains name recognition from his days as a sportscaster.  And he is a state Senator, which gives him a leg up in the primary.  Still, I think it's going to be hard for him to overcome Kawananakoa's money, especially with a lot of his constituency (white Republicans) crossing into the Democratic primary to vote Ed Case for Senate.

Prediction: Kawananakoa 56%, Hogue 44%.

General election prediction: Hirono 58%, Kawananakoa 42%.  Safe Dem.

And what the hell, my prediction for the Democratic Senate primary is Akaka 62%, Case 38%.

Good riddance.

Primary day is September 23.

Originally posted to Skaje on Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 06:42 PM PDT.

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