Former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, is expected to announced her intentions regarding the Senate this fall.
Hanabusa was torn by the desire to hold on to a relatively safe seat that she won only after several failed tries, or to seek an open Senate seat that has been a rarity in Hawaii politics.
A U.S. senator is also one among 100 versus the 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives. While Hanabusa says she is enjoying her first term in office, Democrats are in the minority and the Tea Party is driving the Republican agenda.
However, Akaka and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye both turn 87 next month, and Hanabusa, 60, is an obvious candidate to replace Inouye when he leaves office. Inouye is said to favor Hanabusa as his successor.
It is Hirono who may benefit most from Hanabusa’s decision not to foster a three-way race among Democrats. She and Hanabusa are more liberal politicians than the moderate Case.
But, like the CD1 race, the Senate race has its political antecedents.
Hirono narrowly defeated Case in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor, and Case built on the strength of that campaign to win a seat for Congress that same year in a special election.
Hirono currently has a significant fundraising advantage over Case. But Case may be helped because now he can focus on just one opponent and make the argument that he could best defeat Lingle.
Lingle also has an election history with Hirono: She defeated her in the 2002 general election, though Hirono was the sitting lieutenant governor.
With control of Congress and the White House in play, the 2012 election is already historic. Here at home, it will also be personal.
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