Late Sen. Inouye, money, demographics could determine next senator

Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz

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It’s a heavyweight bout in which the loser could go home for good. That’s how one political analyst is describing the upcoming race for U.S. Senate.

There’s no question the Senate showdown between Colleen Hanabusa and Brian Schatz will be a hot race.

But one analyst says it could end one of the candidate’s political careers, all while invoking the legacy of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye.

It’s not the kind of thing many voters will admit they think about. But in a hotly contested race for Senate, nothing is off-limits.

“You’re going to have the Punahou boy against the Waianae girl,” Hawaii Pacific University Communication Chair John Hart said.

Hart says the potential race between Rep. Hanabusa and incumbent Schatz looks like this:

“Probably a lineup of youth, hope, potential versus experience and getting the job done,” Hart said.

It’s the former lieutenant governor against the former Senate president.

Hart believes Schatz’s campaign could focus on his concern over climate change and his connection to President Barack Obama and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Hanabusa could highlight her legislative achievements, but some voters will also look at demographics.

“How does an Asian female play against a haole male factor into voter preference?,” Hart said.

He also says if you follow the money, and supporters of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, you will likely find your winner.

“Money that formerly went to him, will that money go for her? Will the fact that she was his pick influence people who normally donated him, to give money to her?,” Hart said.

Hanabusa’s potential bid for the Senate seat creates a domino effect with other positions including the race for governor, which many people said she was considering. But now…

“I don’t really see anyone on the Republican side being able to compete against the governor, so I think things look good for another term,” Hart said.

Hanabusa has not yet talked about her plans.

As for Schatz, he said, “There’ll be plenty of time to focus on politics once the race actually takes shape.”

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