Hawai'i has two of the most progressive Senators. Progressive Punch rates Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz tied for 5th place: most progressive.
But Emily's List just backed a corporatist challenger apparently because she is female. Colleen Hanabusa, rated at 117th by Progressive Punch, has a dismal record both as State senator and as one of Hawaii's two Representatives.
For a state that is blue all the way through and for a politician who ran from a district that went 70% for Barack Obama, one wonders how such a DINO was even elected.
Colleen Hanabusa wouldn’t be in Congress except that progressives felt she was the better than Teaparty Republican Charles Djou and Blue Dog Ed Case.
Local and national progressives were frightened about losing the seat (formerly progressive Neil Abercrombie's) to either the GOP or a Blue Dog. So they rallied behind Hanabusa, largely based on her promise to not join the Blue Dog Coalition. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (then co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus), MoveOn.org and Daily Kos all endorsed Hanabusa on this basis
Once Hanabusa was elected, she shunned progressives. Granted, she didn’t join the Blue Dogs. But she did join the New Democrat Coalition - which has supplanted the shrinking, irrelevant Blue Dog Coalition as the home for conservative Democrats. And she’s voted against every Congressional Progressive Caucus proposal and voted for nearly every weapon-funding proposal (whether the Pentagon wanted or not).
She's joined the other New Dems in supporting CISPA (the draconian Internet censorship bill). And she even participated in a New Dems press conference the week after the 2012 election calling for "everything (to) be put on the table" (presumably including Social Security cuts?)
She voted with the GOP to exempt coal-fired boilers from stronger EPA standards - a favor she did for the huge Alexander and Baldwin Company who operates one of the dirtiest coal-fired plants in the U.S. on Maui.
She's expressed her opinion that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Newsflash to Emily's List: Almost all the politicians in Hawai'i run as Democrats since it is unusual to get elected if you are not one. So that (D) by Colleen Hanabusa's name is meaningless given her votes and record.
Sen. Brian Schatz has made addressing climate change his number one priority. A former Sierra Club member, he's gotten off to a great start: voting for Sen Bernie Sanders amendment to allow states to label GMO; voting against the reauthorization of FISA and voting against CISPA. So on the environment and civil rights, his record is 100%.
On the other hand, while State Senate president, Colleen Hanabusa pushed through the infamous "Superferry bill". After environmental and native Hawaiian groups sued to stop the Superferry because it had not done an EIS and posed an unacceptable risk of invasive species transmission. They won, and at the behest of Republican Gov. Lingle, Hanabusa pushed through the bill exempting the Superferry from doing an EIS. Groups sued and the law was ruled unconstitutioinal by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
So the decision by Emily's List to back a conservative challenger to a sitting progressive is utterly baffling. It can only be explained by her gender. Brian Schatz is a solid on women's issues (maybe more solid) than Colleen Hanabusa. But he lacks a vagina. Really, Emily's List? Electing women is a laudable goal. But be choosy. For instance, don't back Michelle Bachman.
Not that there is a comparison between Colleen Hanabusa who is a shrewd woman with a law degree and Michelle Bachman whose most frequent description is "batshit crazy". Except that they both have a propensity for siding with the corporations and voting with the GOP.
As a woman, I fully support Emily's List's goal of electing more qualified women to office. But is this women really qualified for support by a progressive organization?
By backing Hanabusa's challenge to incumbent progressive, Brian Schatz, Emily's List is shooting themselves in the foot. The fight will exhaust the war chests of both candidates, leaving them vulnerable to Republican Linda Lingle to swoop in and take the seat.
This isn't the first time Emily's List has made a mistake. As they did with Nikki Tinker and Blanche Lincoln they need to withdraw this endorsement. But they need to do it now before any more damage is done.
For a politically astute organization like Emily's List, this decision seems inexplicable.