HONOLULU (AP) — A memo from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz's campaign is touting him as a progressive candidate who can win the Democratic primary for Hawaii's senate race "regardless of ethnicity."
"As Hawaii's electorate has moved to the left, progressive candidates, regardless of ethnicity, have won every major contested Democratic primary race since 2002," states the Schatz memo dated Oct. 14. "Although some pundits have theorized that ethnicity determines Democratic primaries, recent history clearly demonstrates that progressive ideology is the more dominant factor."
Schatz, who is white and moved to Hawaii as a toddler, is facing a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Japanese-American. It was U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's dying wish to have Hanabusa succeed him. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz, who was lieutenant governor.
Hanabusa campaign spokesman Peter Boylan says Hawaii voters don't cast ballots "on identification with a particular ideology" but prefer candidates who "reflect their core values."
"This election will come down to who voters believe will be the U.S. Senator, and who will provide the leadership that Hawaii needs now," Boylan said. "It's their first chance to have their voices heard on that, and we don't think they will care about money or labels."
The memo throws barbs at Hanabusa — from fundraising to endorsements to manpower.
"Hanabusa badly trails Schatz in fundraising and endorsements, and she has had a series of missteps evidencing that her campaign is not up to the rigors of a Senate race," the memo said.
The memo is being circulated by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"It's clear that Senator Schatz has put together a superior campaign organization," the committee said in a statement. "His impressive fundraising and endorsements are indicators of that."
The memo concludes by highlighting Schatz's youth over 62-year-old Hanabusa: "At 40 years old, Schatz has the promise of serving many years in the U.S. Senate and accumulating all important seniority for the constituents of Hawaii."
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