Senate Race A Proxy For Governors

Here’s a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately: “Who do you think will win the Brian Schatz/Colleen Hanabusa race?”

I say, “I have no idea.” But I do. I just hate to be wrong!

It’s really a contest between ex-governors George Ariyoshi and Ben Cayetano (Hanabusa), and current Gov. Neil Abercrombie (Schatz.) I call it Schatz’s to lose. We retain those whoare in, although that didn’t work when Mufi Hannemann (D) won a short-term Congress seat only to quickly lose it to Pat Saiki (R).


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Sen. Brian Schatz is Gov. Abercrombie's guy. Photo from Schatz campaign

Schatz has the most money and union endorsements. But Abercrombie’s man at State Agriculture, Russell Kokubun, has defected to Hanabusa.

And it’s been quite a while since ethnic AJAs voted lockstep for one of their own or even for a Democrat.

Schatz’s big plus is his age. He potentially could serve in the Senate for another 40 years. Hanabusa, maybe only 25. Big Schatz minus – he’s Abercrombie’s man and Neil is fast losing popularity.

But anything can happen to tilt a race one way or the other. A screw-up. A scandal. Something intemperately said in an interview. It’s never over ’til it’s over.

One reason I infrequently vote GOP is the party’s fellow travelers. Such as Wall Street Journal editorial columnist Holman Jenkins Jr.

He writes that the prime purpose of Obamacare is “to use the individual mandate and compulsory benefits list to capture money from unwilling buyers of gold-plated insurance policies in order to subsidize others.”

Well, duh! The WSJ and the GOP say that’s the taboo word “socialism.”

They’d have us buy the insurance we can afford and let those way down the economic ladder do without.

I’m one of those not persuaded after Hokulea’s first sailing in 1976 that the Hawaiian canoe could do much to assuage the primary Native Hawaiian ills – drug use, low economic levels and out-of-proportion imprisonment.

There were fights on that Tahiti voyage and the never-coming-to-Hawaii again note from Marquesas navigator Mau Piailug – all reported nationally and in anthropologist Ben Finney’s book Hokulea: Way to Tahiti.

Then the capsizing of the canoe in 1978 in the Kaiwi Channel, with the loss of crewman Eddie Aikau. He became a local hero for setting off on his surfboard to seek rescue, but the Coast Guard said, “Always stay with any part of a boat still afloat. If you go, make sure you can come back.”

However, a recent talk by Hokulea captain, navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society leader Nainoa Thompson turned me somewhat toward what the Hokulea’s coming around-the-world voyage can mean as an inspiration for all young people, not just Hawaiians.

Punahou School is the lead agency in connecting schoolchildren with scientific and cultural information that will flow electronically from the at-sea and in-port events.

I’m not sure a wood sailing canoe is up to the frequent storms it will encounter on a 45,000 nautical mile voyage – and the pirates.

But after hearing Thompson, I’m more “can do” than I was 37 years ago.