Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dead Man Tell No Tales

The big Senate news is Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie's (D) selection to replace Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who recently passed away. Inouye -- a legendary figure in Hawaiian politics -- released a deathbed letter saying his "one and only choice" for a successor was Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D). But Abercrombie rocked the boat by instead picking Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to take the seat. Schatz will serve two years until a 2014 special election; the winner of that will have to run for reelection in 2016.

So the question on everyone's mind is why Abercrombie decided to spurn Inouye's dying wish? The line I've heard is that Abercrombie wanted to demonstrate "independence" from Inouye's giant shadow. If so, it strikes me as a bit weak -- it seems less like a bold stroke and more like, well, kicking a dead guy.

I'm not saying that Abercrombie was obligated to pick Hanabusa. I'm saying that one would hope that there are substantive differences between her and Schatz that motivated the pick, because if it was more of an inside-baseball sort of deal then I can't imagine that it will really turn out well for Abercrombie.

1 comment:

PG said...

Less nasty rationales for Abercrombie's choice, via Politico:

- At 40, Schatz has more time than the 61-year-old Hanabusa to build seniority on Capitol Hill, a critical issue for a state that depends on its representatives in Washington for federal assistance. Abercrombie also noted that Hanabusa is in a “key position” to build up seniority from her perch on the House Armed Services Committee.

- The triggering of a special House election if Hanabusa was chosen also appeared to factor into Abercrombie’s decision. In the last special election for the House in May 2010, Charles Djou became the first congressional Republican from Hawaii in two decades after Hanabusa and former Rep. Ed Case split the Democratic vote. Hanabusa defeated Djou in the general election that November.