Democrats had one prayer answered last weekend when former Rep. Ed Case withdrew from the race for Hawaii’s first Congressional district, saving the party from what was shaping up to be an ugly primary. Then again, it’s still far from clear that the woman Mr. Case made way for, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, is a slam dunk to win the general election.
Mr. Case, a former Congressman, claimed he was stepping back for the good of the party, that too much was at stake to cede the district to the GOP. But polls showed Mr. Case actually the stronger candidate in the fall. Perhaps a likelier explanation for his withdrawal is that he knew it would be tough to compete for money or votes in a Democratic primary with Ms. Hanabusa, a darling of liberal activists and organized labor.
Ms. Hanabusa’s reputation, however, is precisely why some Democrats are now worried about her chances in November. Just two weeks ago, Republican Charles Djou won the same seat in a special election with 39% of the vote, thanks to the presence of both Ms. Hanabusa and Mr. Case in the contest. Hawaii’s GOP Gov. Linda Lingle, for one, predicts that in the fall many Democrats will prefer to cross over and vote for Mr. Djou rather than Ms. Hanabusa: “I think a majority of Ed Case’s supporters tend to be independent people who didn’t like the machine politics in the first place, so I think they’ll be available for Charles.”
Mr. Case ran last month as a fiscal conservative, as did Mr. Djou, and together they collected 67% of the vote. Ms. Hanabusa is clearly counting on the help of the national Democratic organization (which largely stayed out of the special election) as well as old guard Hawaii Democrats like Senator Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka, who bore a particular grudge against Mr. Case.
On his way out, Mr. Case wished Ms. Hanabusa luck but warned of “a very difficult election” if she didn’t do more to “listen, adopt and incorporate” the views of Mr. Case’s more moderate supporters.
— Kim Strassel wrote this for the Wall Street Journal