Akaka Defeats Case in U.S. Senate Race
Sep. 24, 2006
HONOLULU (AP) _ After beating back a challenge in Hawaii's Democratic primary, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka moves onto the November election without a GOP opponent, yet.
Voters in the Republican primary chose former Vietnam prisoner of war Jerry Coffee to run against Akaka. But Coffee pulled out of the race earlier because of health reasons, and Republicans now have three days to name a replacement candidate.
Akaka defeated U.S. Rep. Ed Case, leading 55 percent to 45 percent with all but one precinct reporting. Akaka had 128,927 votes to Case's 106,968.
Akaka, 82, has served in Congress for 30 years and drew on his experience to boost his candidacy. Case, 53, who did not win on any of Hawaii's islands, had argued that the state needed a younger, more moderate senator.
``Losing is never easy,'' he said in his concession speech. ``It doesn't mean the ideas we put forward in this campaign are not valid.''
Case faced the difficult challenge of unseating Akaka, who campaigned on his consistent votes against the Iraq war and his congressional seniority.
The Democratic-leaning state has never unseated an incumbent member of Congress since it became a state in 1959.
While the Senate race attracted the most interest, voters also picked candidates for Hawaii's two congressional districts, governor, and other positions.
In the governor's race, former state Sen. Randy Iwase won the Democratic nod over Hawaiian activist William Aila. Iwase will take on Gov. Linda Lingle, who secured the GOP nomination and is expected to easily win a second term.
The race for Case's congressional seat developed into a free-for-all, with a dozen experienced candidates seeking their parties' nominations.
Former Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono emerged as the apparent winner in the 2nd District Democratic primary. With all but one precinct reporting, Hirono received 24,385 votes in the 10-way race, compared to 23,586 for state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who was in second place.
Hirono will face either state Sen. Bob Hogue or Rep. Quentin Kawananakoa in November. Hogue was leading Kawananakoa 8,393 to 8,194 in the Republican primary in one of the state's closest races.
In the 1st District, Rep. Neil Abercrombie easily beat immigration attorney Alexandra Kaan for the Democratic nomination. Abercrombie had 82,137 votes compared to Kaan's 21,656.
Abercrombie will face Richard Hough, a major in the Army Reserve, who defeated real estate agent Mark Terry, 5,649 votes to 4,177.
Hawaii has had the lowest voter turnout in the nation, with even less participation in primaries. Turnout appeared to have improved over 2004's 40 percent, with more than 42 percent of the state's 655,741 registered voters casting ballots, including record early and absentee voting.