'Bipartisan' is Buzzword in Hawaii's U.S. Senate Race
BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN - U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii announcement on Tuesday that she received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, in her race for U.S. Senate, and that Young also appears in her new television campaign ad, got responses from Hirono's lead political rivals.
Hirono, ranked the 6th most liberal congresswoman, positions herself as the so called "bipartisan" candidate in the ad, using Young to do so.
"At a time when frustrated Americans are imploring their leaders to put partisan differences aside for the good of the country, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) today delivered a strong and hopeful message that cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in Washington is indeed possible -- releasing an unprecedented bipartisan campaign ad in which Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska strongly endorses Hirono over Ed Case in the Hawaii Democratic primary for U.S. Senate," Hirono's press statement said Tuesday.
Without saying so directly, Hirono's ad takes a shot at former Gov. Linda Lingle, who is running for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary. Lingle launched her campaign theme several months ago essentially claiming she is the "bipartisan" candidate. Lingle has since used the word in virtually every speech, statement to the media, and press release.
Lingle's Campaign Manager, Retired General Bob Lee, said: "Gov. Lingle is proud of her long, proven record of bipartisanship, stretching over 25 years of public service to the people of Hawaii. No matter who wins the Democrat Primary on August 11, we look forward to comparing their record with Governor Lingle's."
Hirono's ad, called Opposites Attract, shows Young and Hirono next to each other, with Young saying: "Here's what's important, Hawaii: If you're looking for a United States Senator who doesn't just talk about 'bipartisanship,' but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done -- Mazie Hirono will be that Senator." He adds at the end, while hugging Hirono, "Hawaii needs you."
Hirono said: "Though Don Young is certainly a Republican, and I am clearly a Democrat, we've forged a partnership that enables us to solve problems for the people of both Hawaii and Alaska."
Hirono notes in her written press statement that Young served six years with her and four years with Case, and that she is "humbled a Republican friend like Don has taken this extra step of endorsing my candidacy for U.S. Senate."
"Whatever his generous endorsement may mean for my Senate campaign, what matters most to me is that our bipartisan relationship helps solve problems for the people of Hawaii. Ours is an example of friendly cooperation and meaningful collaboration that Washington must follow, especially in challenging times like these," Hirono said.
Case told Hawaii Reporter that there's a long tradition of the Alaska and Hawaii congressional delegations working together on issues of concern to both states, especially federal efforts on behalf of indigenous Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives.
"For example, in 2003 Congressman Young and then-Congressman Abercrombie co-introduced my bill to strengthen the Native American Languages Act. I will continue that relationship with both Congressman Young and the rest of our respective delegations both present and future if elected to the Senate," Case said. "These less partisan efforts for individual state needs are not unusual in Congress."
Case added: "But what is almost totally lacking today is true bipartisanship in confronting and solving our nation's big-picture challenges, like growing our economy, balancing our budget and preserving Social Security and Medicare. That's what really needs fixing in DC today, and Mazie, with her far left 2% political beliefs and party first and always approach, is part of the problem, not the solution."
Hirono has been ranked as the 6th most liberal House member of 435 members by Progressive Punch, a distinction that naturally gains her respect among the most liberal of her party members. But that accomplishment was not emphasized in this ad. In fact, in addition to revealing her relationship to Young, Hirono also took another opportunity to cite her alliance with Republicans when she said she coauthored The Visit USA Act with Republican U.S. Rep. David Dreier of California.
Lee said in response: "It should be troubling to the people of Hawaii that Mazie Hirono's first attempt to convey any example of bipartisanship is a video advertisement with one of the House of Representative's most controversial members, who even Mazie's fellow Democrats have criticized on a range of ethics and spending issues. This is not the leadership Hawaii needs."
Lee is referring to the fact that Young was investigated by the House Ethics Committee last year and was the target of a Justice Department probe.
Politco reports on November 28, 2011: "It is unclear what the Office of Congressional Ethics was scrutinizing in the Young case, but the cantankerous Alaska Republican was the subject of a long-running Justice Department probe until last year. DOJ looked at Young's ties to Bill Allen, a former oil industry executive who was at the center of the federal corruption case against the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
"Young was also investigated over the mysterious "Coconut Grove" earmark he inserted into a 2005 highway bill on behalf of a developer who contributed to Young's reelection campaign.
"No criminal charges were brought by DOJ against Young."
Young's office later told Politco that the Office of Congressional Ethics review "was related to the legal defense fund Young created to help pay his legal fees during the DOJ criminal probe."
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