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October 2006

Hawai`i News

Akaka Wins Democratic Primary

By Rochelle delaCruz

In a closely watched primary race for the Hawai`i Democratic Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate, incumbent Daniel Akaka got 55% of the votes to beat challenger Ed Case who received 45%.

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawai`i)

The 82-year old Akaka has spent 30 years in Congress, 14 in the House and the last 16 years in the Senate. Over the past five years, he devoted much of his energy to get U.S. government recognition of Native Hawaiians. Senate Bill 147, also called the Akaka Bill, finally got to the floor of the Senate in June 2006 where it was defeated. Senator Akaka said he would try again in the upcoming session but first, he has to win the election. Case’s challenge in the primary was Akaka’s biggest threat as the Republican Party has not been able to find a candidate to defeat the affable Senator.

Representative Ed Case surprised everyone including his own Democratic Party when he announced his candidacy for Akaka’s Senate seat last January. He was finishing only his second elected term to Congress when he made the bold move. While age was not the only stated reason for his candidacy, it quickly became obvious that his challenge was largely based on the fact that Hawai`i has two octogenarians in the Senate (Akaka, and Dan Inouye who is also 82.) Case repeated often that it was time to pass the torch to the younger generation.

With his defeat, voters reminded Case that in Hawai`i, age is considered an asset and not a liability. But many who voted for Akaka were not thinking about age; instead, polls frequently indicated that support for Akaka was based on his consistent opposition to the war in Iraq. The Senator was one of the few who voted against President Bush’s incursion into Iraq and was again among a minority of Senate Democrats who voted for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by July 2007.

On the other hand, Case has supported the President’s position from the beginning, and many saw him as more of a Republican than a Democrat. And after his loss to Akaka, some wondered if he was going to switch parties to run as a Republican, an option that Case denies.

US Representative Ed Case (D-Hawai`i)

The Republican nomination for U.S. Senate was won by Jerry Coffee, even though he had withdrawn from the race in August due to a heart attack. Gov. Linda Lingle and other GOP leaders urged voters to choose him because by winning, the party was able to pick his replacement for the November election. Right after the primary, they chose 73-year old L.A.-born attorney Cynthia Thielen who has been a representative in the State House from District 50 (Kailua and Mokapu) for the past 16 years. She will be on the ballot against Akaka but if Akaka wins this election as everyone expects, he will be 88 when his term expires in 2012, putting Lingle in a good position to move from governor to Senator.

With Ed Case running for Senate, his vacated House Seat was hotly contested. There were 10 Democrats who wanted to go to Washington , including well-known Hawai`i politicians Clayton Hee, Matt Matsunaga and Colleen Hanabusa. But former Lt. Governor Mazie Hirono won the Democratic nomination with 20% of the vote. On the Republican side, media personality Bob Hogue won his party’s nomination, over ali`i descendant Quentin Kawananakoa.


Kahuku Ranch on Island of Hawai`i now part of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park

116,000 acres purchased for $22 million from the Damon Estate

Located on the slopes of the active volcano Mauna Loa, Kahuku is the largest ahupua`a in Hawai`i. It belonged to William Pitt Leleiohoku of the Kamehameha line in 1848 and sold for 5 cents an acre to Charles Harris in 1861. A cattle ranch since the 1860s, it passed through several hands until the Damon Estate bought it in 1958.

In July 2003 with the help of the Nature Conservancy, it became part of the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Since then, the park service has been trying to restore the land to native plants and animals.

Because restoration is not complete, access is limited but the park tries to offer to the public hikes and other programs at least once a month.

The next guided hike takes place on Oct. 15th from 9:30am to noon. For more information, contact Ruth Levin at (808) 985-6014.


Inter-Island Airfare Wars Continue

by NWHIT Staff

The new carrier go! owned and operated by Mainland-based Mesa, continues to shake up inter-island travel. A few months ago NWHIT reported the introductory all-time low fare of $39 one way for all seats on go! jets flights between the Islands. The two old-time carriers Hawaiian and Aloha, were forced to offer the same rates on a limited number of seats at that price on each of their flights. Since then, prices on go! have dropped even lower, first to $29 and then, at the end of September, to $19 one way! That all-time low fare had to be purchased by Sept. 30th but were good on go! flights through Feb. 28, 2007.

NWHIT staff tried out the new airline go! and was happy with the service and aircraft. The 50-seat airplane was new and comfortable, although the overhead compartments were smaller and beverages including juice had to be purchased starting at $1.50. Altitude and flying time between islands were the same, but the biggest advantage was in Honolulu, where go! lands at the old terminal mauka of Aloha/ Hawaiian Inter-island. On arrival, this was easier for baggage delivery and passenger pickup, and on departure, security lines were short and fast.

Anyone flying into the Islands should be aware of the airfare wars where prices can change from day to day. So far, go! has been offering the lowest price that the other carriers are scrambling to match. To check on the latest, ask your travel agent or go to: iflygo.com.

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