U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono has a dominant hold in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, a new Hawaii Poll shows, opening an early double-digit gap over former Congressman Ed Case.
Hirono tops Case 56 percent to 36 percent, a lead driven by overwhelming support on the neighbor islands and from traditional Democrats and union workers who are among the most likely to vote in the August primary. Case’s only advantage is among independents and Republicans, part of the reason why he has appealed to all voters to participate in the primary.
Voters strongly prefer either Hirono or Case over former Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, in the November general election. The poll found that both Democrats have identical double-digit cushions over Lingle.
The Hawaii Poll offers a snapshot of the Senate campaign six months before the primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, just as the candidates and interest groups begin television advertisements and other direct outreach to influence voters.
Joseph Mrasek, a public school teacher who lives in Kula on Maui, said he appreciated that Hirono, as lieutenant governor, stood with teachers during a 2001 strike. He also said he believes Hirono would be more loyal to Hawaii-born President Barack Obama than Case, who is known for his independence.
“I can appreciate it sometimes, but given the difficulty with the cooperation from the other side of the aisle, I don’t think the Democratic Party needs any more Democrat-in-name-only kind of people there,” he said.
Jack Munechika, an electrical engineer who lives in Mililani, said he thinks Hirono would have a better relationship with U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and others in the state’s congressional delegation. “Her experience,” he said of the reason he prefers Hirono. “I like Case, too, but it’s just that he’s trying to jump too fast, yeah?”
Many of Case’s supporters respect his independence and consider him a departure from establishment Democrats who have controlled the majority party. But others who like Case have doubts about Hirono and her ability to defeat Lingle.
“Personality-wise, I prefer Ed Case,” said Summer Uwono, an accountant who lives in McCully and who has difficulty believing
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