BY TISHA PANTER – Hawaii is moving closer to becoming a perfect storm for a change of power from the Democrat Party to the Republican Party because of a beginning of the recognition of an unnecessary man made high cost of living in Hawaii.
A high cost of living perpetuated by a coalition of three: the democrats; a privatized utility company; and, the shipping companies’ and their high shipping rates.
Why then, have the national republicans and national and state news coverages forgotten about the U.S. Senate race in Hawaii? Is it they don’t know about the struggle of Hawaii residents to live?
Do they not know Hawaii residents are paying 69% more for food or 300% the cost most Americans pay for electricity?
Do they not realize that it costs around $8,700 to get a container of goods to Hawaii from the mainland, and on the same ship but traveling further along the route to Shanghai, the Chinese pay less one-tenth of that at around $790 per container?
Do they not know that many people are working two to three jobs to live or two or three families are living in one three bedroom home? Do the national Republicans not understand that the democrat machine in Hawaii is ready and waiting to be crushed with a well-executed and cohesive campaign?
On Sunday, Mike Wallace, Fox News Sunday, displayed a list of the most likely to least likely states to move from an elected democrat to become a republican held seat in the U.S. Senate. Hawaii wasn’t mentioned despite there being a democrat appointed incumbent and a Republican challenger.
It is similar on all national cable stations and even in Hawaii on local news stations. The poll for the U.S. Senate race is not even available on the drop down box on the website of Real Clear Politics. It is like the race doesn’t exist.
Have a couple of polls had such an effect that national republicans are unwilling to even see the growing disenchantment with the democrats in Hawaii and Hawaii’s senate race remains almost completely ignored? And have the republicans missed an opportunity to gain a Senate seat that could have been up for grabs in this election?
True, the U.S. Senate republican candidate Cam Cavasso is trailing democrat candidate Senator Brian Schatz by 41 points according Real Clear Politics, but why is that? Is it because Hawaii is a sure thing for democrats?
If that was the case the current republican candidate for Congress, Charles Djou, would not be polling so high at 46% over democrat Mark Takai at 42% and republican Gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona would not in the margin of error to win against long-time Senator David Ige.
Is it instead because democrat Senator Daniel Inouye (deceased) was in power for so long and Cavasso failed twice to take the seat from Inouye?
Whatever the reason, it is possible the republicans have missed an opportunity for a seat that was ripe for picking. The last Rasmussen poll indicated that a large portion (36%) of the population did not even recognize Cavasso’s name. Name recognition is all important in Hawaiian politics. Take democrat candidate for Congress, Mark Takai, as an example.
Takai was an unlikely choice for winning the democrat primary until a national organization stepped in less than one month prior to primary and pumped some money into advertising, blanketing the airwaves for him. Name recognition then took over and he pulled the democrat nomination for the congressional race.
In recent advertising Takai may have also recognized that the democrats are vulnerable because of the high cost of living in Hawaii as he adopted the republican platform of promising to address the cost of living thereby distancing himself from the Hawaii democrat machine.
A little money into Hawaii could have gone a long way in this U.S. Senate race. To date Cavasso’s campaign is mostly self-funded with a very low six figure budget? Other than the high cost of living, Cavasso and the republicans could have capitalized on a number of issues. Firstly, Schatz is Governor Abercrombie’s appointee.
Not only did Abercrombie appoint against Inouye’s dying wish, but the people ran away in droves from Abercrombie in the primary with almost 70% of the vote going against him.
Exit polls indicated that the democrat challengers weren’t well known and people were voting for anyone but Abercrombie. Next, Schatz is running on plan of raising social security.
His cosponsored bill on removing the cap on social security had 0% percent chance of passing as indicated on the U.S. Senate webpages.
If it had passed such a plan would have been the biggest tax increase in U.S. history increasing the top effective federal tax rate to 52.5%, and the Hawaii combined state and federal rate to 63%. Of course, whatever is gained will be also be immediately depleted if you raise the entitlement as Schatz promises, and it will do little to solve the long-term issues with social security.
The disability trust fund of social security that over 11 million people rely on is due to be depleted in the next few years, and age social security servicing 47 million people is due to run out in approximately 2030 and probably sooner if social security is raised.
Cavasso could also capitalize on the fact that he was audited five times by the IRS when they targeted him after he ran against democrat Senator Inouye, twice after the first race, and three times after the second run.
If he could get his messages out, it also might resonate with voters that one simple bill giving Hawaii an exemption from the requirement to buy container ships in the U.S. only could give immediate and significant relief to the people for the cost of goods.
An underdog is always attractive to a population struggling to make a living, particularly when they provide solutions to some of the people’s woes, and particularly when an incumbent won’t commit to debate.
Unfortunately, without significant money for advertising Cavasso won’t get his messages out and can’t get name recognition as the local media is either in the tank for the democrats or just follows the national stage.
So, when the democrat takes the U.S. Senate seat for Hawaii, the national and local republicans should ask themselves “Could the republicans have won the U.S. Senate seat if republicans had put some resources into Hawaii?” And if the U.S. Senate remains with a democrat majority, they should ask themselves “did we shoot ourselves in the foot ignoring Hawaii?”
Tisha Panter is the Senior Attorney and Director of the Senate Minority Research Office at the Hawaii Senate)