The progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org is urging its members to support Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz over "quasi-Republican" Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, also a Democrat, in the state's competitive Senate primary election on Saturday.
In a Friday evening fundraising email, the group invoked the specter of former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent who often caucused with Republicans, to bash Hanabusa on issues dear to progressives.
"Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz is a strong progressive who Elizabeth Warren called 'precisely the kind of Democrat we need fighting to level the playing field for working families,'" the email read. "But his Wall Street-backed primary challenger, Representative Colleen Hanabusa, voted to cut Social Security, supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and undercut President Obama's plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour."
The sharply worded email also said that MoveOn members had a choice to make -- either help elect a Warren-style progressive, or a "terrible, conservative" Democrat more comfortable "running in the Republican primary."
Schatz and Hanabusa are running to fill the final two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye's (D-Hawaii) term. Inouye's dying wish was for Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Hanabusa. But he instead chose Schatz.
Democrats remain divided on the two candidates. Schatz has picked up notable endorsements from President Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, but Hanabusa has the backing of EMILY's List, the group that works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to Congress.
Saturday's primary is further complicated by a pair of strong storms that threaten to damper voter turnout, which the email also addressed.
"We can't let an Elizabeth Warren Democrat get defeated by a quasi-Republican like Colleen Hanabusa because a tropical storm messes up our plans," it read.