If his new ad is any indication, Sen. Brian Schatz (D) is bringing his "A" game to Hawaii's fiercely contested Democratic primary battle.
Schatz was named to replace the revered Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) in December 2012 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), despite a deathbed wish from Inouye that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) be selected. The Hanabusa-Schatz rivalry has been dramatic and personal ever since, with issues of age, race, gender and local vs. mainland interests coming into play.
While Schatz enjoys a strong lead in fundraising and support from national figures like Al Gore and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the race is still polling neck-and-neck, making Schatz's first ad especially potent. Shot in his Hawaii home, the 31-second spot touches on Schatz's commitment to Social Security, referencing the 200,000 people in Hawaii who receive benefits, including Schatz's own father-in-law, George Kwok, who relied on them after losing his eyesight.
Schatz combines his appeal to older voters with a glimpse of his home life, including his interracial marriage and multigenerational household -- both of which are common in Hawaii.
His ad comes one week after the Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced its endorsement of Schatz, citing his resolve to expand Social Security.
"Rep. Colleen Hanabusa," the PCCC said in emails to Schatz supporters, "refuses to rule out cutting Social Security benefits."
While Hanabusa has said that she does not support any cuts to Social Security, her campaign, according to one Hawaii blogger, went "ballistic" over the endorsement, sending out a call for donations because the campaign needed help to "fight back against Mainland special interests trying to appoint our leaders and change our Hawaii."