Sunday, September 24, 2006

Akaka Wins Hawaii Senate Primary

In the last primary for the 33 Senate seats being contested in 2006, Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka survived a challenge from conservative Democrat Ed Case Saturday to take the state's Democratic Senatorial nomination. The winner of the Democratic primary was to take on Republican Jerry Coffee, but Coffee withdrew from the race in August after having emergency heart bypass surgery.

Coffee remained on the ballot, besting the other five Republican candidates with 41 percent of the vote, after Hawaii's Republican Governor Linda Lingle urged voters to support Coffee so that the state Republican party could have the option of replacing him on the general election ballot. At this point, it is unclear who Akaka will face -- if anyone -- in the November 7 general election, but Hawaii Republicans have until Tuesday to replace Coffee as the nominee.

The 82-year-old Akaka, the first senator of Native Hawaiian descent and the only Chinese American in the Senate, handily defeated Case 54 percent to 45 percent.

"I'm really humbled to be here with you," said Akaka, bedecked with numerous flower leis and joined by supporters and Hawaii's congressional delegation. "There is nothing but gratitude in my heart for all of you."

"This is a great day for Hawaii and a great day for the United States," said the state's other Democratic Senator, Daniel Inouye, at Akaka headquarters. "Dan Akaka is going back to Washington."

Given that Akaka voted against giving George W. Bush approval to go to war in Iraq and Case said explicitly that he would have voted for giving the president that authority, Democratic voters in Hawaii made exactly the right decision during such a critical time in our country.

We already have one Joe Lieberman too many in the United States Senate and Hawaiians clearly decided yesterday that we do not need another.