If I were Ed Case, I’d start to consider ending my electoral political aspirations. He’s a decent guy, sure, and, when he was in the House of Representatives, as effective as a legislator can be when he or she is from Hawaii. But from the start of his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democrat Daniel Akaka, Case has pretty much been the odd guy out at a dance between current Democratic Representative Mazie Hirono (whose 2nd District includes all of Hawaii except Honolulu) and Republican Linda Lingle. Profoundly unpopular with the Hawaii Democratic Party since his upstart attempt to unseat Akaka six years ago, Case was a third choice for the seat the instant he entered the race.
From the beginning, the senate race shaped itself as a rematch between liberal Congresswoman Hirono, the one-time Hawaii lieutenant governor who in 2002 had wanted the state’s top job, and Lingle the conservative woman from Missouri who beat her and then sat in the governor’s office for eight straight years. And that was all long before Hirono started running that “Opposites Attract” television ad.
Seriously, have you seen that thing? It’s just a minute and a half long, but it eviscerates Case’s preeminent argument against Hirono–that she’s too liberal to represent Hawaii in the Senate. It’s been his best drum to beat, and beat it he has, but right before his last televised debate with Hirono, her new ad hit the airwaves and smashed Case’s drum to bits.
The ad is very simple. It shows Hirono, clad in a purple jacket, sitting next to 19-term Republican Congressman Don Young. Young, who has sat in the U.S. Congress since Richard Nixon was president, is the second most senior Republican in the U.S. House. Did I mention he’s also a Republican? Anyway, in the ad Young–A REPUBLICAN–sits next to Democrat Hirono and chats about how they struck some bipartisan compromise on some bill that apparently required Hirono “to battle my party leadership to get our amendment passed.” This thing apparently meant so much to Young that he (who, I might have forgotten to say, is a member of the Republican Party) is now endorsing Hirono for the United States Senate.
The content, the timing, the simply, folksy style of the ad–it’s all genius. A week ago, no one outside of Alaska had even heard of Don Young (or Mazie Hirono, for that matter), and now CNN is blogging about them both.
The ad is also great political theater: Young gets in a few (smiling) jabs at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Hirono (also smiling) attempts to keep Young from saying too much. We’re so used to hearing Democratic and Republican politicians hurling ludicrous charges at each other, that the sight of two on opposite sides of the room sitting next to each other, joking and being friendly is genuinely shocking.
Ultimately, of course, I’m not Ed Case, and he wouldn’t be much of a politician if he bowed out of the race at the urging of a lowly alt-weekly editor. But it’s also undeniable that Hirono’s Young endorsement couldn’t come at a worse time for Case.
Photos: US Congress/Wikimedia Commons